Plans for new facility not made; Council approves $290,988 to renovate Animal Shelter

Photo of Shelter as of August 2015. 

On Thursday Ascension’s Parish Council approved the lowest of five bids, $290,988.89 from BRP Construction, to renovate the Animal Shelter on Airline Hwy in Sorrento.  On December 8, 2018 voters, by a 353-vote margin in a 16% turnout election, enacted a ten-year, one-mill property tax parish-wide “for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, maintaining and operating an animal shelter for the Parish.” Anticipating blowback, Director of Planning and Facility Maintenance Ricky Compton explained the dire need to renovate the existing facility, assuring the expenditure would not be waste.

“Unfathomable,” was the descriptive employed by Compton of the shelter.  “(It is) not fit for the animals we’re trying to save and rescue…(nor) the people who work there.”

Projected to generate $1.3 million annually, when will plans for anew Animal Shelter come to fruition?  Over the property tax’s lifespan it is projected to generate $13 million, a conservative estimate given the rising value of one mill in Ascension Parish.  While the ballot initiative’s language is sufficiently expansive to allow for renovation of the existing shelter, it leaves taxpayers wondering when/where the new Animal Shelter will be constructed.

Compton explained that the expenditure would not go to waste once shelter operations are moved to a new facility.

“(Renovations) will prolong the life of that facility,” he said.  “We will use that facility for my maintenance staff and grounds maintenance staff, including a shop where real maintenance work can be done.”

As for the nature and extent of specific renovations, Director Compton mentioned the addition of walls to the facility.  Having visited the shelter, it could use an all-over kind of makeover.