County commits to animal shelter, city does not

The Greene County supervisors and the Jefferson City council both heard updates on the proposed new animal shelter this week.

The supervisors on Monday gave a verbal commitment to pay $15,000 annually to the city of Jefferson for operating expenses. “as binding as our word,” board chair John Muir said, although there was no motion made.

City council members, when it was their turn Tuesday, made no commitment. Mayor Craig Berry said the council is still waiting to learn the cost of construction and how much outlying communities will commit.

Retired sheriff Steve Haupert and council member Dave Sloan are both on the animal shelter committee. Haupert was on the supervisors’ agenda to report on the shelter.  “Consider annual contribution” was also listed on the agenda.

The cost of the building has been scaled back from $1.2 million to between $650,000 and $700,000. The size is about the same, 40 X 80 feet, but it will be a prefabricated metal building with an interior vapor barrier rather than a brick building. It will go into use without a full complement of cages and kennel runs, and without a paved parking lot.

The committee has pared down the annual operating budget to $77-$80,000. Sloan asked the supervisors for a commitment of $15,000 and told them he would ask the city council on Tuesday for $37,500 annual operating expenses.

The city will own the shelter. The committee hopes People for Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the “PAWS ladies” as Sloan calls them, will handle most of the day-to-day management of it.

The agenda item for the city council was listed only as “update”. Sloan told the council he has a budget that’s “real close” and he hopes by the Aug. 8 meeting to have a “solid plan.” Mayor Berry said he’d talk to the other mayors at their monthly round table Wednesday (July 26).

As the council was moving to the next agenda item, a question was raised by the press about a funding commitment from the council. Sloan’s response was that the council had already given it at the previous meeting. Berry said they were waiting for more information. (The council has discussed the shelter but has yet to approve funds.)

The council could not have approved funding because of the way the shelter was listed on the agenda.

Sloan expects fundraising to take up to 18 months. Don Orris, who had volunteered last December to spearhead fundraising for a $1.2 million building, will help the committee but will not take the lead, Sloan said.

Haupert said Monday he expects the fundraising to be difficult, with the only possible grant funds coming from Grow Greene County.

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