Animal shelter costs still higher than committee wants

Also okays contract for last clean-out of Pizza Ranch building

The effort to formulate an acceptable operating budget for an animal shelter is continuing, according to Jefferson city council member Dave Sloan, chair of the steering committee working toward building a new shelter.

Sloan shared a draft budget with the city council Tuesday. Revenue is estimated at $56,000, including $25,000 from the city of Jefferson, $10,000 from the county, adoption fees and donations. It does not include payments by other towns in the county, although that is under discussion.

Expenses stand at $95,272. Of that, $30,000 is for a part-time director and $28,000 is for part-time caretakers for the animals. Sloan said the committee hopes volunteers will come forward as caretakers, taking that figure out of the budget.

Even with volunteer help, there is a $39,000 shortfall in the budget, Sloan said.

The project stalled in January when the city council and the county supervisors balked at assuring an annual operating budget of $161,000 would be met. That budget, prepared by volunteer organizer Don Orris, included a fulltime animal control officer and two fulltime equivalents in minimum wage employees. Orris also included less anticipated revenue in the budget, for a net annual operating cost of $143,000.

The steering committee proposes the shelter be owned by the city of Jefferson, with oversight being done by a seven member board composed of a Jefferson city council member, a county supervisor, a People Active for Animal Welfare (PAWS) member, a city staff member, a representative of the city police department, and two others.

The steering committee has tweaked Orris’ building plan some, but without much cost savings. The proposed building will still cost close to $1 million.

Council member Harry Ahrenholtz is also on the steering committee. He said it’s a “fair question” to ask why it costs more to run a new facility than the dilapidated facility now in use. “The operating thing is still a challenge,” he said.

Sloan said Tuesday no fundraising will be done for the building until an operating budget is agreed upon by all parties.

In other business, the city approved a contract for $25,200 with Murphy Construction for inside demolition at the former Pizza Ranch. Once that is completed, city building officer Nick Sorenson will inspect the wiring and then make the building available for potential buyers.

The council approved a letter of intent to sell to Region XII Council of Governments vacant lots at 506 E. Clark, 507 S. Locust and 507 N. Cedar for $1 each. That will become part of a grant application that if funded, would allow Region XII to construct affordable housing. The new homes would have market value of about $200,000 but would be available to qualifying low to moderate income homebuyers at a cost of $120-$150,000. Region XII would bear all the risk and cost of construction and then sell the homes.

Karla Janning of Region XII attended the meeting. She told the council the grant process is very competitive. Region XII will receive notification if the grant is funded in December and then start construction in March if the funds are awarded.

The council received the final report from Bolton & Menk on the visioning study of the east entry way to the city on Lincoln Way. The final report includes as key elements of the design enhanced corridor lighting to improve safety; interpretive signage/markers with the lighting; an expanded trail connection on the south side of the road from the Raccoon River Valley Trail trailhead at the Milwaukee depot to the municipal cemetery; street trees, shrubs, and perennial plantings at key locations on the trail; interpretation opportunities for the Lincoln Highway; and site furnishings like benches.

The report includes estimated costs totaling $682,000. The costs are broken out so the city council can prioritize the various components and proceed accordingly. Of the total, $237,500 is for lighting and interpretive structures; $154,000 is for the trail; $75,000 is for vegetation; $23,000 is for storm water structures; and $15,000 is for amenities. The engineering fee is $101,000.

In other business, the city approved the second reading of an amendment to the city code to increase utility deposits for new customers from $100 to $150; approved standard operating procedures and policies for the fire department; approved $1,080 in hotel/motel tax funds for Jefferson Matters: Main Street’s purchase of additional seasonal banners for the courthouse square; approved various payments for paving work; approved a needed resolution for a state grant application for airport work; and approved payments for paving projects.


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