The people who pay the bills for the county’s Animal Resource Center should have the final say on its budget.

The disagreement about how the animal shelter is funded suggests that a good part of Galveston County is covered by an almost unworkable system.

Some cities in Galveston County, such as Galveston and League City, operate and fund their own shelters.

The county and a group of nine cities contribute to the Animal Resource Center in Texas City.

The members of this consortium contract with the Galveston County Health District to run the center.

The health district offered members of the group a range of budget options.

Most — but not all — cities agreed to a more expensive option, one that includes modest raises for shelter employees.

That proposal also would convert two part-time jobs into full-time positions.

The United Board of Health endorsed that plan, although it didn’t have unanimous support from the cities that make up the consortium.

La Marque, Dickinson, Santa Fe and Clear Lake Shores supported a budget that would have kept spending close to current levels.

You can see their point.

It’s especially difficult to support increases in pay and staffing levels at the shelter when you’re concerned about being able to do that for your own municipal employees.

The plan adopted by the board of health obviously is the better plan.

The shelter has a higher euthanasia rate than it should have.

Having a person on staff full time to focus on adoptions and to coordinate volunteers should address that problem.

But the key question was not which is the better plan, but rather, what can the cities afford.

The vote for the higher budget put another strain on a system that already was under stress.

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