Council approves animal shelter budget revision

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By Jennifer Garcia

The approval for Budget Revision No. 2009-22 in the amount of $140,000 for the Animal Shelter Project should have been quick and easy because it was listed as part of the consent agenda. However, after council approved the agenda, Councilor Vincent Chiravalle asked that the animal shelter item be moved from the consent agenda to the business portion of the agenda during Tuesday night’s Council meeting.


During the Dec. 16 council meeting, councilors approved Budget Revision 2009-21, increasing the Animal Shelter Project budget from $1.28 million to $1.36 million to incorporate a metal roof, outside kennel drainage and increase the number of kennels from 14 to 18.


At that time, council also directed that the following enhancements be incorporated: Upgrade of the exterior to meet downtown architectural standards ($75,000); widen 12 kennels by 8 inches ($50,000); radiant panel heat for four kennels ($4,000); and epoxy floor coating ($11,000 for a total cost of $140,000).


Council also directed staff to return with a budget revision to increase the Animal Shelter Project Budget accordingly.


Based on direction from council in December, Capital Projects Manager and Facilities Director Anne Laurent was in chambers Tuesday night and answered questions that the new councilors regarding the Animal Shelter Project.


Chiravalle asked Laurent about the exterior upgrades.


“I would like to take a look at the issue of spending the $75,000 on the exterior upgrades,” Chiravalle said.


Laurent addressed his concern by saying, “The schematic design for the animal shelter has been presented twice to council. The first time was on Nov. 18 and that was approved with council, but they requested staff come back with potential enhancements. Staff returned on Dec. 16 and had a revised design that was approved. This motion tonight is a follow-through. We didn’t have a dollar number, so we didn’t present it to Council on Dec. 16.”


Chiravalle wanted to know what the size increase for the kennels is. Laurent said that in order to accommodate larger dogs, the increase for each kennel was 6-8 inches.


“We did it based on dealing with concrete block,” Laurent said. “The architect worked with that range of 6-8 inches.” She also said that the main issue with the site is that because it’s close to neighbors, there were restrictions about what staff could put where. “It turned out that the kennels fit very nicely in the middle (of the building),” she said.


Councilor Nona Bowman said at first she was concerned with the architectural standards about downtown being met.


“I think that this building is one of the first public buildings that you see when you come into town,” Bowman said. “After we approved the first design with the original architectural structure, many citizens felt the building was pretty austere. I think the second design is more appealing.”


After discussion about the exterior of the shelter and the changes that have been made to the design, Councilor Mike Wismer steered the conversation back on track when he said to Laurent, “The issue is whether we want a budget revision, which puts the total over $1.4 million. Quantify for me the $75,000 that is added for the architectural standards. I think you said it reduces maintenance costs. Is it worth it?”


Laurent said that when the $75,000 was presented, it was presented as a menu item.


“The material cost and the labor costs are $56,000. That’s what came from the contractor. Because I‘m presenting this as a total number and a total project, I was adding 10 percent. Whether we would use it for this item or for some other item, we don’t know that yet. The $75,000 was an all-inclusive number so council could pick a good item. I wanted to make sure there was a total number.”


Councilor Robert Gibson said that he also had concerns about the apparent scope of the project.


“The initial proposal was for a 7,000-square-foot facility (that would cost) around $2 million. What we’ve seen in this project is more typical of how a project development project should work. What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is exactly what happens in healthy development project processes.”


“When the dust is settling, it’s slightly less than $1.5 million. In my mind, that’s not bad for a good facility of this variety.”


He also said that while he doesn’t agree with everything that went into the process, he agrees with enough of it. “Maybe we’re finally on track, at least with small projects,” he said.


Council Chair Michael Wheeler seemed happy with the revised plans.


“I think this is a fantastic illustration of what the downtown architectural standards do for the community. The community can be very proud of the appearance of this building,” he said.


Wismer moved to approve the revision, which was seconded Bowman. The motion passed 5-1, with Chiravalle voting against it.