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Future of animal shelter uncertain
Current setup will expire at years end
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Forsyth County News
The clock is ticking on Forsyth County’s arrangement for its animal shelter.

Through the end of this year, the county has an agreement with NALAA to operate the animal control facility at Orr Animal Hospital on Old Atlanta

NALAA terminated the original agreement in spring 2009, but the county negotiated to continue the services through 2010 at a rate of $5,000 more per month, for a total of $480,000 per year.

Discussion of the next step has been postponed several times since June.

“It’s run into some roadblocks on the board,” Chairman Charles Laughinghouse said Friday. “I was trying to get it back on the radar again before I left office. Maybe I’ve succeeded. Maybe I haven’t.”

Laughinghouse, who chose not to seek a third term, leaves office at year’s end. He isn’t sure in what direction the commission may head. But with no time to build a shelter before the contract ends, he hopes NALAA would consider another contract year.

County commissioners reviewed several possible options for operating an animal shelter when the contract runs out, but haven’t narrowed the field.
Donna Kukarola, the county’s procurement director, presented some choices to commissioners during a meeting Tuesday.

Forsyth could begin negotiations to extend the current contract or obtain funding to build a shelter and then either operate it with county staff or through a third party.

The commission could opt to set up a committee for a sheltering program, which could provide information and education.

Several companies submitted bids to build the shelter, but only two offered to operate it: the Humane Society of Forsyth County and Humane League of Lake Lanier.

Building a shelter is projected to cost about $2.2 million.

If that option was selected, the county could fund it through a bond from the public facility authority or a bond referendum, which would require voter approval.

The shelter likely would be on County Way in north Forsyth and house 300 to 350 animals in about 15,000 square feet.

Tuesday, Laughinghouse suggested raising animal control fees and using the increase to pay for construction of a shelter, a measure he said other counties have used.

“We need to boost those fees effective as of Jan. 1, take what comes in and start putting that back into a capital budget,” he said.

The county currently is “one of the lowest, if not the lowest” in rabies tag fees, Kukarola said.

The rates are $3 for an animal that is spayed or neutered and $5 for others.

If the county charged rates similar to neighboring Fulton County, Kukarola said the revenue would be “exceptionally more.”

Last year, animal control, which operates under the sheriff’s office, brought in about $89,000, according to sheriff’s office figures.

Commissioner Patrick Bell said the fees should be increased regardless of what the commission decides on for its animal shelter services.

“We’ve got to look at the fees, bring them in line,” he said. “I think it needs to be more self-supporting.”

The commission directed the county manager to bring back potential rate increases in tag fees and other animal control fees for its Aug. 10 work session.