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Committee recommends tapping reserve funds
Money would fund animal shelter
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Forsyth County News


If Forsyth County commissioners agree with the recommendation of an advisory committee, the process for building a new animal shelter could get the go-ahead Thursday.

The animal control and shelter panel voted 4-0 on Monday night to recommend the county begin the project, with advance funding coming from general fund reserves.

The estimated $2.7 million project was approved by voters as part of the recent referendum on extending the 1-cent sales tax.

Though revenue from the tax won’t start coming in until July 2013, the county could borrow the money from its reserve fund and pay it back with interest, said Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt.

“It’s the best low-cost way we could find to finance the project early and allow us to begin immediately,” Merritt said.

The county’s reserves were not considered as an option more than a year ago when a new animal shelter was discussed, he said, because the fund should amount to at least 25 percent of the annual budget, according to county policy.

The reserves have since topped the 25-percent policy, which is in place to keep the county’s bond rating high and cover any emergencies.

Committee Chairman John McGruder called the finance mechanism “a great proposal.”

Merritt estimated the shelter could be finished by fall 2013 if commissioners on Thursday authorize staff to seek proposals for architectural services.

It could take about six to eight weeks for the proposal process to wrap up, at which point the committee plans to meet again to discuss design services.

In a “good, tight budget” estimated for the shelter, Merritt said construction costs were projected at $2.25 million for a 15,000-square-foot facility.

The design costs are estimated at $135,000, while infrastructure is at $108,500 and equipment totals $164,000.

The nearly $2.7 million total budget does not include the cost of extending a sewer line to the site on County Way.

That effort is projected to cost the water and sewer department between $80,000 and $100,000.