City council okays animal shelter operating expenses

Construction could begin next spring

Nine months after a proposed new animal shelter was tabled, the Jefferson city council approved operating expenses for it, allowing the project to move forward.

The motion was approved unanimously at the council’s regular meeting Sept. 26.

As the project was presented last winter, construction of the new building was estimated at $1.2 million and annual operating expenses were estimated at $161,000. Don Orris had volunteered to spearhead fundraising for the building, but it was the city council’s reluctance to guarantee operating expenses that nixed the project.

The budget presented to the council Tuesday estimated annual expenses at $80,272. That budget was prepared by council member Harry Ahrenholtz and does not include $110,000 in wages Orris had included.

The county supervisors have already agreed to an annual allocation of $15,000 for operating expenses. Ahrenholtz’s budget shows revenue from adoption fees, donations to People for Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the like at about $29,000.

The council approved up to an amount “just shy of $36,000” from the city budget for operating expenses.

Construction is now estimated at $750,000. The scaled back building will open without a full complement of cages and without a paved parking lot. It will be located on a parcel Greene County Development Corporation donated for that purpose almost a year ago. There is room for a dog park but the cost of that is not included in the $750,000.

When the council failed to act last January, mayor Craig Berry appointed Ahrenholtz and council member Dave Sloan to serve on a committee to find options for dealing with current shelter, which Sloan soon learned is “totally inadequate.” Sloan accepted the appointment only reluctantly, but he stepped into a leadership role. It is Sloan who has updated the council on the committee’s activities.

Also on the committee are members of P.A.W.S., former sheriff Steve Haupert, county supervisor Dawn Rudolph, and city administrator Mike Palmer.

Sloan said the committee will apply for construction funds from Grow Greene County in the next grant cycle. Those grant awards will be announced in March, and construction will begin soon after if the grant is received.

The committee will look at other grant options, though Sloan says there aren’t many available for animal shelters.

Donations will be accepted, and Sloan showed a check he had received at the start of the meeting. Donations can be taken to Jefferson city hall or mailed to the city at 220 N. Chestnut St, Jefferson, IA 50129.

City attorney Bob Schwarzkopf verified that donations to the new shelter are tax deductible.

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