Construction can begin on new $5M animal shelter in Sutter County
A building contractor will be given the all-clear today to begin construction on Sutter County's new regional $5 million animal shelter.
The decision was made Tuesday night after a solution to a Sutter Animal Services Authority dispute was approved by the Yuba City City Council.
"This is an essential service and we're going to provide it," said Councilman Tej Maan of the 4-0 vote. "But it has been a complicated mess."
Planning the eventual transfer, chain of command and terms of employment for workers at the animal shelter had authority members at an impasse following perceived threats of litigation from Sutter County last month.
"I take it seriously when I get papered by the county's attorney," City Manager Steve Jepsen said of the latest wrench thrown in an eight-year animal shelter planning process.
The joint powers authority governing animal services authority has Yuba City eventually taking over as the lead agency for new shelter operations. The city already is the lead agency for construction of the facility.
Yuba City is on the hook for 66 percent of construction and operating costs.
But Sutter County, which has run the shelter for more than 25 years, has controlled most of the process to date, said Jepsen, who called the arrangement, "a two-headed dog."
"Poor Live Oak is in the middle, getting pulled from both ends," he said.
The Sutter County Board of Supervisors voted last week to approve the first of three options presented to them by their staff for handling employee transitions to the new shelter.
That option would have shelter workers remain employed by the county and a new executive manager/director who would report to the animal shelter authority's board.
But without having authority to oversee work in the new shelter, Yuba City's role as the biggest financial investor would not be worthwhile, officials said Tuesday.
Leaving workers permanently in the county's employ "would take Yuba City out of the direct line of program supervision, which is counter to the city's base objectives," reads a staff report by Jepsen.
The council voted for another option that would keep employees with Sutter County's pay and benefits, but would have them contracting their services to either the authority or Yuba City. The new manager/director of the shelter would report to Yuba City and future vacancies at the shelter would be filled through Yuba City employment procedures and terms.
"We are stewards to the taxpayers (of Yuba City) and we are paying 66 percent of the bill," said Councilman John Dukes.
"We have to make sure it (the new shelter) is properly managed, staffed and operated," said Mayor John Miller.
The final decision for resolving the employee transfer issues rests with the animal shelter authority.
A special meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 13.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.