Animal Services Board considering fourth (confidential) site for shelter

Potential site added to the consideration earlier this year

Searching for the optimal site where Ascension’s new shelter will be located, the Animal Services Board has an awful lot to consider.  Responsible for oversight of approximately $1.5 million in annual tax revenue generated from a 1-mill parish-wide property tax approved in December of 2018, the budget is going to be tight.  A fourth, undisclosed, site is under consideration as of May 4.

The Board’s meeting minutes from May 4 include:

Property Update:

  • Survey issued and 1 appraiser scheduled.  Will take approx. 6 weeks to do appraisal.
  • 4th location is confidential at this time.  Not in flood zone.  Ruth (Phillips) will share location once details have been negotiated and can be disclosed.  If ASB like the property location and price is 500k-ish, then we can recommend to the Finance Committee.  Finance Committee can then vote on at 2 council meetings.  Looking at mid-August at the earliest.  Shelter Planners of America can present AFTER Council approves the property purchase.

Two subsequent Animal Service Board meetings having come and gone, along with the month of August, without an appraisal of this “confidential” site.  The June 1 minutes:

New Shelter Location:

Ruth has had conversations with a company about sub-dividing the land mentioned (or not mentioned-emphasis added) at the last meeting.  Waiting on appraisal.  Probably won’t receive until August.  Sharla said she would give Mike w/ SPOA an update.

From July 6:

New Location Update:

The previous appraiser kept stalling.  Ruth found a new appraiser and he will have it done within 7-10 days at 1/4 the price.

NOTE:  With a records request for the latest Animal Service Board meeting minutes pending, we will update this piece with any new information received.


Below is an article published on May 22, 2022.

Ascension’s Council recently approved an amendment (No. 3 if you’re counting) to the 2022 Operating and Capital Budgets adopted on the 18th day of November, 2021.  The changes included:

OPERATING BUDGET:

  • Animal Services Fund – (Increase appropriation to CARA’s house for additional payroll cost incurred while the animals were housed at Lamar Dixon)
    Expenditures & Other Financing Uses: Appropriations – CARA’s House $ 49,000

The CARA’s House appropriation adopted by the unanimous council on Thursday evidences the challenges to building a new, state-of-the-art Animal Shelter while struggling to keep up with ongoing demands of animal control and continued operation of a dilapidated facility.  The funds used to come out of Ascension’s General Fund.

The Animal Services Fund receives the revenues generated by a 1-mill property tax approved at the ballot box on December 8, 2018 when 16.4% of the voters bothered to turn out.  6,398 “YES” votes against 6,045 “NAYs” and every property owner in Ascension Parish is on the hook for:

“One (1) mill on all property subject to taxation in the Parish (an estimated $1,300,000.00 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year) (the “Tax”), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2019 and ending with the year 2028, for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining and operating an animal shelter for the Parish, including necessary equipment and facilities.”

Better yet, if you happen to control the fund, the estimated revenue generation lowballed the value of one parish-wide mill by a couple of hundred thousand dollars.  In effect since 2019, total collection for three years exceeds $4.5 million.

Two sites considered for new Animal Shelter with 2023 groundbreaking

But will that be sufficient?

According to the Animal Service Board’s April 6 meeting minutes, it is “looking like $1,259,000 saved so far for the shelter.”  Two potential Animal Shelter sites were being considered in January, both east of the City of Gonzales within the right triangle formed by Airline Hwy and LA 30 (see image at top of page).

Shelter Planners favored proposed Site #1 because ” it has more visibility by the highway, better access, has less flooding concerns, and has more useable space.”  Visibility in a high traffic area was cited as the most important factor in increasing pet adoptions.  As to design, the factors to be considered in building a modern animal shelter are too many to enumerate here.  Two options were presented.

  • Option No. 1 is a 21,628 sq ft facility (16,732 enclosed) at a cost range from $6.5-9.2 million.
  • Option No. 2 (“Bare Bones”) envisions 17,195 sq ft (13,534 enclosed) with a $4.1-7.3 million range.

Having banked three years’ worth of savings ($1,259,000), collections are on pace to generate $4,196,667 over the ten year property tax collection.

According to the Animal Services Board’s April 6 minutes, three sites are being considered for construction of a new animal shelter.  Those minutes include:

  • Site A: 6.53 acres off Hwy 30. A company might want to buy 2.63 acres from Parish after it is purchase. Would ultimately cost the Parish 550k. Not wetlands, no flooding, already zoned
    MU/Rural.
  • Site B: Off Airline Hwy. Most expensive. Not in flood zone.
  • Site C: Airline & Hwy 431. Right behind a neighborhood. Not in flood zone.

The job of Animal Control and shelter operations…

Photo of Shelter as of August 2015.

is not suspended while funds are amassed to acquire and/or construct a new facility.  January’s ASB minutes claimed…

“The Parish currently has an annual operating cost of $899,500, which includes $350,000 that is paid to CARA’s house. Cara’s House currently has an operating cost of $696,020.58. The total operating cost for both the Parish and CARA’s house is $1,245,520.”

At the time President Clint Cointment’s administration stated:

The administration has been working with the Animal Control Department, Animal Services Board and Shelter Planners of America to come up with a need’s assessment and cost estimates for a new shelter. The Animal Services Board will be presenting their recommendation, with the Shelter Planners of America, to the Council tentatively in February, 2022.

Currently the administration is on schedule to go out for an RFQ for engineering/architectural services once a plan has been approved by the council. We anticipate breaking ground in 2023 and our administration is currently negotiating a property donation for the shelter. The administration is also looking for grant funding options to help supplement that portion the tax necessary to fund the shelter, and also considering cost saving measures such as the land donation. We look forward to the Animal Services Board presenting the options to the Council, hearing their feedback and moving forward to get this project underway.

Four months later and…no action taken, nor considered publicly.

 

Comments

comments