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County to see bids for shelter
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Forsyth County News

Other business

Also at Tuesday’s work session, the Forsyth County commission:

• Appointed Everett Bennett to the development authority by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Jim Harrell opposed.

• Approved modifying the alcohol ordinance so that any Forsyth County alcohol license or reciprocating government license can be accepted for issuing special event permits. Commissioner Brian Tam and Patrick Bell were opposed. The matter will go to two public hearings before final approval.

• Adopted a resolution allowing the Georgia Department of Revenue to use the county’s occupational tax information to identify those not paying state taxes. Commissioners also voted to send a cover letter asking that the sharing of information be reciprocal.

• Appointed Joe Moses to the planning commission to fill the unexpired term of Jim Quinn, who represented District 5.

Note: All votes were 5-0 unless otherwise noted.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

The Forsyth County commission inched forward Tuesday on the construction of an animal shelter.

In a 3-2 vote, commissioners approved opening the design/build proposals for review and then awarding construction to the lowest bidder.

The work session vote was not final, however, and the matter will appear on the new business agenda of the next regular meeting, set for Nov. 18.

Commissioners Patrick Bell and Brian Tam voted against the measure, in part because neither a funding source nor a location for an animal shelter have been identified.

The decision capped a lengthy and often contentious discussion about whether to even vote on the matter or delay it.

The county currently contracts its animal shelter operations with NALAA, which is paid $40,000 per month by the county.

Earlier this month, the commission renewed that contract for another year with a one-year automatic renewal.

They were left with few other options since the contract was set to expire Dec. 31, but expressed interest in building a county-owned shelter.

At the start of next year, the commission will have two new members in seats currently held by Commissioner Jim Harrell and Chairman Charles Laughinghouse.

Bell and Tam wanted to have the involvement of commissioners-elect Pete Amos and Todd Levent in the animal shelter discussion, even if it meant pushing the vote to next year.

“We have new representatives coming in and they should have the opportunity to have input on something that they are now going to have to deal with,” Bell said.

County rules allow for an issue to be postponed twice by a vote of just two commissioners.

Beyond that, however, a third commissioner would have to agree in order to push the decision past Dec. 16, the commission’s final meeting of the year, and into 2011.

“There are still two postponements out there,” Harrell said. “[That’s] plenty of time to discuss it, get the details right and as a board decide if we want to do it or if we want to postpone a decision.”

Bell said he supported the county building an animal shelter, but didn’t like it being “railroaded through” in this way.

Harrell said he has been attempting to get the discussion going for months, only to have it blocked or postponed.

A funding source has not been identified, but some commissioners hope to hash out the details soon.

Harrell and Bell said they have been working together to gather and analyze information about rabies tag fees and how much revenue an increase in that fee could generate.

The county has asked for proposals to design and build an animal shelter without a surgical room, which would mean spay and neuter operations could not be done on site. No specific location has been identified for such a facility.

At last estimate, Donna Kukarola, the county’s procurement director, said it will cost about $2.5 million to design and build a shelter without a surgical room. That price does not include day-to-day operation costs.

The proposals have been reviewed by staff but not the commission, Kukarola said.

The requests for proposals, or RFPs, were submitted in November 2009, but Kukarola said the companies have stayed interested and will work with the county on updating prices.

Since these are RFPs and not bids, she said, that gives the county some “room for negotiation.”