The Transylvania Times -

 
 

By Derek McKissock
News Editor 

City Willing To Help Fund New Animal Shelter

 


Brevard City Council said Monday it’s willing to provide $100,000 toward a new county Animal Shelter.

By a 4-1 vote, the council said the city would pay the amount in five phases beginning next fiscal year. The county estimates it might cost more than $1 million to build a new shelter.

Councilman Dee Dee Perkins said the public believes a new Animal Shelter is “long overdue” and the city should support it. Councilman Larry Canady said he supported the proposal “100 percent.”

Councilman Mack McKeller voted to provide funding, but he did it “reluctantly.”

“It’s another example of the county not doing what it should do to benefit all of the community,” he said.

Councilman Rodney Locks voted against the funding, saying city residents had already contributed to the funding of a new shelter through taxes.

“It’s double taxation of citizens,” he said.

The county has set aside $750,000 for the building of a new Animal Shelter on property in the Calvert area, near the town of Rosman. A private fundraising campaign is also underway.

City Manager Joe Moore provided a report to council about possible options to the 1979 Animal Control Agreement the city has with the county.

In December 2010, council asked staff to work with the county to find the best way to transfer animal control duties within the city from the county to the city.

The city took over full-time animal control duties within the city on July 1.

The second part of council’s directive was to negotiate with the county “the most economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable means to shelter animals.”

In his report, Moore said this has been difficult to negotiate because the “intent of the 1979 cost sharing arrangements between the city and county is unclear.”

Moore said city staff cannot answer if a government agency running a public shelter is the most “economically efficient.” Local governments are allowed but not required to operate an Animal Shelter.

As far as what is “socially equitable,” Moore quoted from the 1979 agreement: “The county shall maintain a suitable building and other facilities necessary for carrying out the provisions of this agreement. In the event that a new site, building or other facilities are needed, the cost thereof shall be shared on a pro-rata basis by the city and county based upon population.”

Moore said that based on the current estimated construction costs, the city’s share would be $240,000.

“With no rationale stated in either the agreement, or the minutes of the meeting approving the agreement, staff cannot answer what is the most equitable means to shelter animals,” Moore said.

From an “environmentally sustainable” standpoint, city staff agrees the Animal Shelter is dated, no longer meets state inspection requirements and needs to be replaced.

Moore said animal shelters throughout the state are operated by different methods: nonprofits, public-private partnerships, city and county.

The Asheville Humane Society runs a shelter funded by the city of Asheville and Buncombe County.

City staff believes only one shelter is required for a county Transylvania’s size.

In his report, Moore said the question for the council is one of “equity.”

“What is the rationale that supports Brevard citizens paying an additional tax above and beyond the portion of their county tax used to support the shelter?” he asked. “Is Brevard’s participation in the project equitable if Brevard’s Animal Control Ordinance is stricter than the county’s and thereby generates a higher use?”

As of Oct. 1, Moore said the city brought nine stray animals to the shelter. The estimated fee to house strays is $3,240 a year, he said.

The city also doesn’t have the means to quarantine dangerous or rabid animals, he said.

Moore also touched on the question of “representation.”

“Is Brevard’s participation in the project equitable if a partnership ensures Brevard citizens’ interests are met in the design, construction, operation and timing of the new facility?” he asked. “With the site chosen and the design complete, the opportunities for Brevard’s participation to represent citizen interests are limited to involvement during construction and operational oversight. The value of operational oversight is often subjective and too difficult to quantify, but phased payment may ensure Brevard’s interests are met.”

Lastly, Moore talked about “county service.”

“Is Brevard’s participation in the project equitable if it matches a tax increase shared by all county taxpayers?” he asked.

Moore said the remaining cost to build an Animal Shelter, above and beyond the money the county has set aside, is roughly $300,000.

“If this cost were apportioned to all county taxpayers, the share to Brevard’s property owners, based on proportional value of tax base, is estimated at $47,000,” he said.

In his recommendations to council, Moore suggested providing $90,000, rather than the $100,000 the council eventually approved, toward a new shelter. He said the costs of sheltering and quarantining over the next 10 years in exchange for free sheltering and no user fees would be $42,300.

He said the city would need to find other revenue sources to pay for these services.

 
 
 
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