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Shelter committee reviews scenarios
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County animal shelter committee has laid out plans to get to work in the event voters approve the Nov. 8 referendum to extend the 1-cent sales tax.

The construction of a shelter has been identified as one of the projects in the next round of the special local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII. The extension is projected to collect $200 million from 2013-19.

At a Tuesday meeting, the Forsyth County Animal Control & Shelter Advisory Committee reviewed its tasks set by the county commission when it created the group early this year.

The five-member committee has been charged with formulating recommendations for building and operating a shelter.

The county currently contracts the shelter operations out to Lanier Orr, who has indicated he’s ready to step down.

With the operation outgrowing Orr’s facility on Old Atlanta Road, the committee recommended the county build a new shelter and suggested SPLOST be the funding mechanism.

John McGruder, committee chairman, said members completed their work prior to knowing whether voters will approve the nearly $3 million for construction.

"There are a lot of thing in here that, assuming SPLOST passes, we need to get started on soon," McGruder said.

The group set its next meeting for Nov. 14, which is the Monday after Election Day.

Reviewing the list of sales tax projects, Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt informed the group the shelter was on the "A" tier, which means it would be completed if the list is approved.

The county commission, however, did not agree with the committee that money should be bonded out to start construction immediately, Merritt said.

Officials have previously said the county’s public facilities authority could be an outlet to get the funding for the animal shelter construction after the vote. The committee did not discuss this option Tuesday.

Merritt noted commissioners have not indicated a plan B if the sales tax referendum were to fail.

"At this point, I’m not aware of a good alternative," he said.

If the referendum passes, then the committee can begin formulating design specifics, operating plans and funding measures for a shelter.

The facility has been proposed for a county-owned site on County Way, off Ga. 400 in north Forsyth.

Merritt reported to the group that the Georgia State Patrol has agreed to reconfigure its lease with the county to allow the now defunct driver safety course to be used for a shelter site.

He suggested the committee consider asking commissioners if they could be involved in an advisory capacity for the shelter’s design.

The committee voted 4-0, with Commissioner Todd Levent absent, to request inclusion in that process.

Member Lance White said he hopes the committee will be allowed to continue.

"We have a very knowledgeable and caring group that would like to see this to the end," White said.