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Shelter is a go for now
Official hints move may be overturned
animal shelter 2 jd
Wearing blue to show their unity, supporters of an animal shelter proposal filled Thursdays commission meeting. - photo by Jim Dean

 


It appears Forsyth County will build its own animal shelter, though the decision to do so could be short-lived.

After Thursday’s 3-2 vote to move ahead with the plan, Commissioner Patrick Bell announced he would pursue overturning the matter at the first meeting next month.

That’s when two new commissioners will come aboard, replacing officials who support the shelter concept.

The vote, which awarded the contract to the lowest of the four bidders chosen by a selection committee in 2009, was the latest development in the lengthy shelter saga.

Options for where to build the facility and how to pay for its construction have been narrowed.

If the decision stands, the job will go to CA3 Construction for about $1.9 million, said Donna Kukarola, the county’s procurement director. Construction could begin within 120 days.

The funding would come from one of two avenues: a public facilities authority bond with revenue from increased fees for rabies tags and other animal control licenses; or the county’s general fund reserves.

That decision, Commissioner Jim Boff said, depends on “whatever is deemed optimal by the county manager on consultation with the department of finance.”

The vote also set the location as either a site on County Way in northern Forsyth, as originally stated in the request for proposals, or at Fowler Park, which is set to open in January.

“That’s some flexibility that’s built in for the future board,” said Commissioner Jim Harrell, who pushed for a vote in November.

The decision had been postponed twice by Commissioners Bell and Brian Tam, who cast the dissenting votes Thursday.

Tam was opposed to the funding source possibly drawing from the county’s dwindling reserves.

County Manager Doug Derrer said the fund is projected to have about $11.5 million at the end of the year.

County policy strives to keep reserves at 25 percent of the total budget, which would equal about $22 million in 2011.

The county currently contracts its animal shelter operations with NALAA, which receives $40,000 per month.

In early November, commissioners renewed that deal for 2011 with a one-year automatic renewal.

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

Supporters of a county-built shelter filled the middle of the meeting room Thursday, with several addressing the commissioners.

Resident Jenny Schneider said the county should set an example for others. She also shared a Ghandi quote: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Brandon Mills, a co-founder of the Dawson County Humane Society, said building a humane animal shelter is the next step past basic animal control services and one “well overdue in Forsyth County.”

“Please modernize your approach,” Mills said. “Bring your animal control services in line with the rest of Forsyth County’s development.”

Resident Leslie Greenfield asked the future commission to not undo the vote. Next month, Pete Amos and Todd Levent will succeed Charles Laughinghouse and Harrell, both of whom voted in favor of building the shelter.

Though Bell announced his intention to pursue overturning the matter, he has previously written an e-mail stating he would like to see a county-owned shelter. His contention, however, is that he wants the shelter done “properly and responsibly.”