Members of the Forsyth County animal shelter committee compared their plans for the new facility to the project’s budget during a meeting Wednesday night.
The architectural team the county hired presented an estimate for the shelter’s square footage, based on traditional figures for animals taken in annually, compared to a community’s population.
Bill Daggett of Shelterplanners.com said his calculations to meet typical shelter intake would equate to 85 dog spots and 82 cat spots, and a total building size of more than 14,000 square feet.
“So we try to now match this to budget,” Daggett said. “Now I take my same calculator … and I change the number of spots.”
Based on that adjustment, he recommended including 69 dog spots and 66 cat spots in a shelter that’s about 11,500 square feet.
He estimated the building’s total project cost at about $2.4 million, while additional dog and cat spaces likely would cost more than $200,000.
Daggett said the county can bid out the project to contractors with the extra spaces as an alternate possibility to see what kind of prices come back before determining whether it’s affordable.
Some of the committee members expressed concern about the building’s recommended size.
Lance White said the county’s current shelter can house dozens of more animals than what is being considered for the new facility.
The group discussed moving the animals from the current location to the new one in phases and starting new programs before opening the shelter to reduce to the number being housed by the county.
The county currently contracts out its shelter operations to a private facility owned by Lanier Orr, who wants to get out of the business.
Orr, who serves on the committee, said he would likely be able to keep animals a few months after the new shelter opens to help ease the transition.
County commissioners began searching for a shelter solution in 2009, when Orr first asked to end his contract.
In November, voters approved an extension of the 1-cent special local option sales tax, which included funding to build a shelter.
The project has since been on a fast track. In July, the architectural team of Cumming-based RKS and Shelterplanners of Richmond, Va., earned the bid to design the facility for $181,250.
A schedule presented to the committee set a target date for early January 2014 to open the shelter, with construction beginning in late February.
Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said the committee will have several decisions to make over the next few months to meet that schedule.
A blueprint of the facility is slated for completion in early November.
The series of planning meetings for the committee will continue at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday with a review of the building program.
Daggett plans to have more data to base the shelter’s size on once he receives information from the Humane Society of Forsyth County.
Figures from the county’s animal shelter showed that intakes are slightly declining and are currently about 1.62 percent of the population.
The number of animal intakes typically falls between 3 and 4 percent of a county’s population, which Daggett expects Forsyth will approach once considering the work of the local humane society and other rescue groups.
“The question I have is, ‘Will all of that continue?’” Daggett said. “If it does continue, it should continue to contribute to taking the pressure off of this building, though to what extent is hard to document.”
The building will also be designed with room for a possible expansion, he said.
Daggett uses a metric based on “length of stay” for the animals, which sets a minimum average of 10 days as the time needed to promote adoptions.
Once that duration falls below 10, it may be time to expand the facility, he said.