Sutter County animal shelter's price tag bigger than estimated
The total projected cost for a proposed new Sutter County animal shelter is more than $1 million higher than previously estimated, according to Yuba City officials.
Selection of a contractor to build the new shelter, which is expected to replace a much-maligned and badly overcrowded one on Second Street in Yuba City, was postponed Monday in the wake of news about the discrepancy.
The Sutter Animal Services Authority Board of Directors voted Monday to await the results of consultation with the project's designer, Swatt Miers Architects.
George Musallam, director of public works for Yuba City, reported that the lowest of seven contractors' bids had priced the work at $5 million — $1.1 million higher than an engineer's previous estimate for the 12,467 square-foot planned facility.
"We're now assessing why it's so much higher (than originally estimated)," said Musallem.
Yuba City is the biggest stakeholder in the shelter project — a three-way collaboration with Sutter County and the City of Live Oak — and is expected to pay 66 percent of all costs associated with design and construction.
The city contracts with Sutter County to house its homeless pets at the existing shelter, but will be expected to take over animal control operations from the county pending construction of the new facility. But concerns about changes to shelter operation and management, as well as the new shelter plan's basic layout and focus, have yet to be ironed out.
On Monday, Yuba City City Councilman John Miller took issue with a consultant's recommendation that the shelter employ four animal control officers and a professional shelter manager.
"The feeling from Yuba City is that we're over-staffed," Miller said. "So let's start a little understaffed, and then if need be, we can add somebody."
"Why spend the money before you need it?" he said.
County Supervisor Stan Cleveland responded that staffing issues were part of the of problem the authority had been charged with fixing.
"If you really want to lay somebody off and then hire somebody back, it brings a kind of uncertainty we shouldn't be creating," he said.
Settling on cost figures for a new operating budget should await more facts, Cleveland said.
Talks about the need for a new regional shelter facility began more than six years ago between the three entities.
Friction between Yuba City and Sutter County officials, primarily over cost, slowed, and sometimes stopped progress during that time.
The joint-powers authority formed in May 2011 after a grand jury report described conditions and operations at the existing shelter in horrific detail, and suggested the possibility that criminal cases of animal neglect and cruelty might be brought to bear.
An investigation by the county sheriff found the claims to be unfounded.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.