Most Viewed Stories
County mulls building, running dog pound
In other Supervisors news Tuesday:
• The Supervisors agreed to a potential Avenue E extension near San Luis that will skirt east of Rolle Airfield.
The Avenue E extension, which would run from State Route 195 to County 18th Street, would provide the area with a new north-south corridor to Somerton and Yuma. A county consultant scoped westerly and easterly alignments and recommended the one that runs to the east of the airfield. The Yuma County Airport Authority favors the eastern alignment due to the possible future expansion and development of Rolle. The cities of San Luis and Somerton concur with the airport authority's preference.
• The Supervisors approved the entire consent agenda, which included a resolution in support of the “Housing for Heroes Project” to provide homes for low-income Yuma-area veterans. The Board also approved a letter that asks the Legislature to restore transit funding that it swept two years ago.
Yuma County is considering building a $1.5 million pound that it would run in cooperation with the area's cities, moving further away from its relationship with the Humane Society.
By going in on a centralized facility with Somerton, San Luis, Wellton and the city of Yuma, the county could respond to the unexpectedly increasing kennel expenses that it pays to the Humane Society of Yuma, which continues to receive animals even though Yuma County started its own animal control patrol division last summer. HSOY formerly provided animal control duties for the county, and other municipalities, as well.
Although he acknowledged that severing kennelling ties with the Humane Society would impact that organization, county administrator Robert Pickels said HSOY staff have been part of the discussion and he has to think of the county's fiscal health first.
“I'm not trying to pull the rug out from anybody,” he said Tuesday, when the Yuma County Board of Supervisors gave him the go-ahead to continue conceptualizing the pound.
Pickels said municipal interest in the joint effort is strong. With the staffs supportive of the project, he now plans to reach out to city and town councils, along with the Humane Society's board of directors.
HSOY Executive Director Shawn Smith, for his part, is concerned about cost overruns similar to the kind the city of Yuma faced after it took over its own animal control duties early last year. He also said the new kennel would be redundant.
“Ultimately, the taxpayers will lose,” he said.
Yuma County assumed animal control field duties in unincorporated parts of the county in July, taking over services that it had previously long contracted out to HSOY. By moving patrol duties in-house, the county expected to spend no more than $480,000, the value of that portion of the HSOY contract. The county expects to at least meet that goal this year, although potential savings of as much as $93,000 dwindled and could become a wash after a higher-than-anticipated demand for services, according to county calculations.
County officials weren't expecting their in-house crew to be busier than the HSOY team, but that's what's ended up happening over the last few months: Calls for service have averaged about 250 per month, and impoundments have gone up to 100 per month. When HSOY ran operations, it impounded about 65 animals per month, the county said.
Those additional impoundments are adding up. At $32 per dog per day at HSOY's shelter and assuming a four-day stay per dog, that corresponds to an anticipated cost increase of about $65,000 – the county budgeted about $88,000 for kennelling this year, but is projected to spend about $153,000.
With the bump in impoundments, the county's projected savings dropped from about $93,000 to $28,000.
Also, the Yuma County Animal Control Division is staffed with two part-time officers, a full-time officer and a full-time director, who also spends time in the field. Pickels said he'd like to make one of those part-time officers full-time, which could further chip away at savings.
The possible new facility would cost an estimated $1,457,000 to build – financed either through bonds or a pledged revenue purchase agreement – and eventually cost roughly $224,000 per year to run. A basic structure that would be almost entirely dedicated to dog pens, it could potentially be operational later this year.
“It's a simple facility,” Pickels said. “It probably wouldn't take more than two or three months to get a new building up and running.”
The “transitional facility,” which would be a holding facility but not offer adoptions, would sit on about 1 acre at 36th Street east of Avenue 4E in Yuma city limits. The city would transfer the title to the county and the county would lease space to all the municipalities until the debt is satisfied after 10 years. After the debt expires, the county would retain ownership and maintenance of the facility, charging municipalities at a reduced rate for maintenance only. All municipalities would have around-the-clock access to the pound. It would primarily house dogs, but there would be a room for stray cats picked up in the city of Yuma.
Each entity would chip in a proportional amount: the city of Yuma more than half, unincorporated county about 25 percent, and smaller amounts for San Luis, Somerton and Wellton. For the first year, that would be a total of $450,000, making the bills as little as $9,000 for Wellton and about $250,000 for the city of Yuma. By the 11th year, with the debt service retired, operations would cost a total of $224,000, absent inflationary cost increases.
For the county, the per-day kennelling charge would shake out to about $30 a day at first, but once the debt service is retired it would drop to about $15 per day.
Staffing would include two kennel technicians, a veterinarian on contract, and inmate labor from the state prison in San Luis for tasks like maintenance, kennel washing and dog exercising.
Impounded dogs that aren't reunited with their owners after being held for the maximum amount of time – five days for licensed animals, three if unlicensed – will either be sent to the HSOY shelter or a rescue group for adoption, or euthanized.
Pickels reiterated that Yuma County has had a positive long-standing relationship with the Humane Society and it hopes to preserve that through the transition.
“I take some comfort in the fact that it's been very well-researched,” he said.
Smith said that even though he opposes the consolidated pound concept, HSOY will go ahead with its mission of spaying and neutering, and providing low-cost veterinary care. Pet overpopulation and homelessness, and thus the need for shelters, are things they want to eliminate.
“That's our vision,” he said. “An empty shelter.”