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Operation of animal shelter aired
Public-private split may be most likely
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Forsyth County News

As the floor plans for the future Forsyth County animal shelter received final approval, its advisory committee began discussions Wednesday night on who will operate the facility.

Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt told the committee that the shelter could be run anywhere in a spectrum from all government  to hiring a private entity.

“Somewhere in the middle would be what I would call a public-private partnership where the county would contract for some services … that might include things like veterinarian services,” Merritt said.

The committee plans to seek examples of each and make a decision early next year, but the group seemed to lean toward a model in the middle.

Approved as part of last year’s 1-cent sales tax extension, the shelter will be built on a 4.1-acre site on County Way in north Forsyth off Ga. 400 for about $2.6 million. It’s estimated completion date is early 2014.

Though revenue from the six-year tax extension won’t start coming in until July, the county plans to borrow the money from its reserve fund to build the facility and pay it back with interest.

Wednesday, Merritt shared comments from member Kathy Genovese, who was absent. Genovese recommended the county hire a director to “monitor the day-to-day activities of the site, be in charge … and really be a champion” for it.

Committee Chairman John McGruder agreed that a public-private partnership may be the best option, since the county animal control officer likely would be stationed at the facility.

“It gives the county some oversight on a lot of issues,” McGruder said. “One of my problems with just signing it over is someone needs to be responsible for that facility.”

He said the committee needs to consider what services will be most cost-efficient to bid out.

As the group begins to discuss the specifics of operations, the construction schedule will move along. The committee made a few final tweaks to that plan Wednesday, including: determining how much of the optional surgical suite to complete; rotating the building to be facing toward the drive up County Way; and moving the dog “meet and greet” area where prospective adopters can introduce animals.

The group plans to review all the finishes of each room, from ceiling tiles to flooring, on Nov. 28.