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SLO County cities to vote on paying for new costs associated with new county animal shelter

SLO County cities to vote on paying for new costs associated with new county animal shelter
Posted at 10:44 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-06 01:48:35-05

San Luis Obispo County Animal Services is facing a new hurdle when it comes to building a new facility.

Back in 2017, several cities in San Luis Obispo county were considering not using contributing to county animal services and instead building their own facilities.

Eventually all of the cities got on board, but now as the cost of the project is going up to be more than previously estimates those same cities are reconsidering.

Cities across the county will now be meeting on whether to continue to pay into this project that has now gone from a budget of $14.5 million to $20.3 million.

"A total project budget of $14.5 million was established in 2016. It was expected that $10.5 million of that would be for construction. The current total project budget is $20.3 million with approximately $15 million of that designated for final design and construction. The County has committed to pay for the first $1.3 million with the remaining $18.9 million to be shared by the County and all seven cities within the County," explained Jeff Werst, Design Division Manager for the County of San Luis Obispo.

These are expenses Animal Services says are necessary to better care for the animals at the shelter.

"(We have) things like roof leaks, there's a lot soil settling, because the property was built on an old dump and as a result we've had some facility issues related to that. The conditions and the way that it's structured really don't facilitate maintenance and promotion of animal health and behavior," Eric Anderson, Animal Services Manager for the County of San Luis Obispo, explained.

Animal Services says repairing these issues would be more expensive than building a new facility.

A new development is now underway to better care for the animals and the county’s needs.

The new Animal Services location is projected to be just 100 yards east of the current building so the county can maintain its working relationships with Woods Humane Society and the San Luis Obispo County Honor Farm inmates who help take care of the animals.

"We're not really looking to add any new features, what we're really looking to achieve is being able to provide the same functions and the same housing capacity in a much more compassionate, healthy, and safe environment," Anderson said.

The county says it’s taken so long to get everyone on board however, the cost of the project has gone up nearly $6 million.

"Added costs are primarily a result of the ongoing boom in the building industry going across the Country. Costs are reflective of the high demand for contractors and labor, tariffs imposed on materials and State mandated skilled labor requirements," said Werst.

Each city now has to decide if they want to continue to pay their share of the costs, with Paso Robles, Atascadero and the unincorporated parts of the county paying the most. The cost is based on the volume of calls for service.

"Across the county, our services account for about 20 percent of the activity, so I think we're paying about 18.5 percent of the construction costs of the new shelter," Paso Robles Police Chief Ty Lewis said.

The county says the breakdown in costs for a pending 25-year bond sale, with prorated amount for individual cities is as follows:
Arroyo Grande 5.94% $ 65,753
Atascadero 15.03% $166,376
Grover Beach 3.12% $34,537
Morro Bay 2.90% $32,102
Paso Robles 18.15% $200,913
Pismo Beach 1.19% $13,173
San Luis Obispo 10.03% $111,028
Unincorporated 43.64% $483,077

On Tuesday, Paso Robles city leaders have approved moving forward with the new expenses.

"What I would hope would happen next is that when all said and done, we come in on time and under budget - but more than anything having a modernized place for the compassionate care of our community of animals is at the top of everyone's list," Chief Lewis said.

The city of Morro Bay is expected to meet on this issue Wednesday night.

The county Board of Supervisors will have the final vote on this issue December 10th.