Sutter County animal shelter's cost rises
The officials charged with bettering life for Yuba-Sutter's unwanted animals approved $5.2 million on Monday for a new shelter and "a very aggressive" plan to build it.
The Sutter Animal Services Authority voted 5-0 to increase the budget for the shelter from $4.5 million to $5.2 million. Sutter Supervisor Larry Munger, who is a member of the authority, was absent.
Authority members also added future plans for study sessions to bone up on how volunteer programs work in an animal shelter, and take field trips to other shelters to see how they're designed and learn about keeping shelters clean. Authority chairman Gary Baland, Live Oak's mayor, called the beefed up strategy "very aggressive" and "required."
The vote, and details about plans moving forward, come after more than six years of disagreements about cost, and political bickering about periods when the proposed new shelter project had been stalled.
"This is farther than we've gotten in years," said Cheryl Bohannan, Sutter County's supervising animal control officer. "It's going forward, and going forward is good."
The drive to build a new shelter comes in the wake of blistering critiques of the current one, including a Sutter County Grand Jury report last year blasting the shelter's conditions as "deplorable."
Too many dogs and cats died in the shelter's kennels, workers exposed animals to disease by not cleaning the shelter properly and management failed to implement proper policies, according to the report.
"There is a very large rat infestation throughout the shelter," according to the report, which said members of the grand jury noticed rat feces 1-2 inches deep in the rafters.
"Due to deplorable housekeeping for the past several years, the stench in the animal housing area cannot be eliminated by normal cleaning," the report states. "This creates a potential health hazard to all involved."
The shelter cleaned up the rat infestation, according to a November report from veterinarian Richard Bachman. Moreover, the shelter spent $124,000 to make emergency improvements such as buying cages, installing appliances and installing equipment for disinfecting and rinsing equipment.
Authority members will have to take the project, a cooperative effort between Sutter County and the cities of Yuba City and Live Oak, back to their respective governing bodies and secure approval for more money.
A tentative plan to shift the proposed location north to a site off Live Oak Boulevard has since been re-focused back to a vacant lot proposed years earlier at 200 Garden Highway, close to the current shelter.
Three authority members, who represent both cities and the county, said Monday they didn't foresee any hiccups with winning their colleagues' approval.
"They're pretty much on board with this," said John Dukes, a Yuba City City Council member.
The other option would be holding firm on the $4.5 million cap. That, however, would force planners to go back to the drawing board to redesign the shelter.
"You go back and reinvent the wheel," Baland said, "and it's going to end up costing more."
"Why would we want to do that?" Dukes asked, rhetorically.
Authority members also tapped Yuba City, not Sutter County, to take the lead on building the shelter. Yuba City building the shelter will save $30,000 to $150,000 since cities don't have to deal with as many regulations.
CONTACT reporter Jonathan Edwards at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADjedwards or on Twitter at @ADjedwards.