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Animal control: commissioners ponder next step

With all eight construction bids opened last week for the proposed animal control facility coming in above the architect’s initial $513,000 estimate, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners will meet Thursday at 1 p.m. with architect Angie Kleer of Michell Timperman Ritz of New Albany to decide the next step.
Commission chair J.R. Eckart said Monday, at the commissioners’ regular meeting, that Kleer had not had enough time to review the bids and make a recommendation at that meeting.
The low base bid of $428,788 by Dadisman Builders is no longer the lowest when the alternative bids are added. Then the total comes to $580,740. Those items include $73,250 for preparation of the Quarry Road site (road, paved parking lot and sewer lift station); $18,600 for a metal roof; $1,500 for a ‘guillotine door’; $9,062 for a walk-in freezer, $3,640 for epoxy paint on the walls, and $4,700 for epoxy paint on the floor; $2,940 for a reception counter; $34,600 for a garage, and $3,660 for a metal roof.
The seven remaining bids range from a high of $662,200 to a low of $538,094, but that bid did not include preparation of the Quarry Road site or a metal roof.
The $513,000 estimate is two years old and construction prices have risen in the interim. ‘The cost of materials has skyrocketed,’ Eckart said.
Kleer said the estimate had not been updated before bids were let.
On a motion by Commissioner James Goldman and seconded by Jim Heitkemper, the bids were taken under advisement pending review.
The $513,000 estimate is $213,000 above the $300,000 the council has approved for the project.
Council chair Gary Davis, who attended Monday’s meeting of the commissioners, said the council won’t take any additional action unless and until the commissioners request it.
‘We just have to wait and see what (the commissioners) propose,’ Davis said.
To get more than the $300,000 in riverboat revenue already approved by the council, Davis said, several members of the council would have to change their minds.
‘I think it’s all up in the air,’ he added. ‘Instead of being more clear, I think we are less clear. We were hoping for progress, but I think we’ve regressed.’
Eckart, noting how successful their endeavors have been in the past, appealed to officials with Leadership Harrison County to take on the promotion of an animal control facility as a class project.
‘We have not had any grassroots movement that says, ‘Get this thing done,’ ‘ Eckart told John Hodges, the Leadership director who was on hand to seek the commissioners’ approval for next year’s funding. (The commissioners voted unanimously to send the request for $32,000 in riverboat funds to the council.)
Eckart said he believes HEART’s work with unwanted animals has been geared more toward finding homes for the animals than promoting an animal control facility.
(HEART was more active in appealing for an animal shelter prior to Eckart’s taking office some four years ago, but decided its efforts were causing more animosity than appreciation.)
In his appeal to Leadership (or anyone else, for that matter), Eckart said, ‘I’m trying to get somebody to get out and take the temperature of the community.’
‘I get more negatives in this community on animal control than I do positives. How do you promote this thing? How do you get support for it?’
The animal control facility needs the kind of backing, grassroots support, that brought the first swimming pool to Harrison County, he said.
‘What we are promoting is something I think we would be proud to have in the community.’
Earlier attempts to get more money for the animal control facility have failed.
A move by Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes in January to approve $400,000 failed 2-4, with only Ralph Sherman voting in favor with Mathes. Rhonda Rhoads, Kenneth Saulman, Carl Duley and Alvin Brown all voted no. As chair, Davis did not vote.
Following that, Saulman’s motion to approve the $300,000 passed unanimously.
Later, Mathes opined that he and Sherman are the only landowners in Harrison County who understand the problems of uninvited animals dumped on their doorstep.
The appropriation was required because last year’s allocation of $300,000 had expired. A contract must have been let for the funds to be carried over the next year.
Commissioners OK hike in spay/neuter fees
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday approved an increase in fees, as of April 1, paid to veterinarian Julie M. Janes for the spay/neuter surgeries performed on cats and dogs owned by Harrison County residents.
The fees are paid from riverboat revenue, which has a $32,000 budget this year.
‘I would at least like to break even,’ said Dr. Janes, whose practice is in Georgetown. ‘It’s a very, very good cause; it’s great.
‘But I don’t want to be the only one taking a beating on it,’ she said, referring to the reduced rate.
Until recently, she had been the only one to participate. Dr. Ronald Smith of Ramsey is now taking part.
Appointments to have an animal spayed or neutered must be made through the program coordinator, Tanya Tuell, at 969-2615.
Other veterinarians did not want to participate in the program because they believed it was meant to take the place of an animal shelter, Janes said. ‘They said, ‘You are crazy. They will never build a shelter,’ but until the shelter is worked out, we have got a problem,’ she said.
The higher rates may encourage more veterinarians to participate, Janes said.
Some people believe the spay/neuter program, which has been highly successful, will eventually do away with the problem of pet overpopulation and thus the need for animal control, said Commissioner James Goldman.
But Janes said that won’t happen, even ‘if you did 100 dogs a day.’
Payments to Janes had been withheld since the beginning of the year pending the signing of a contract. After Monday’s negotiations, the board approved the veterinarian’s claims which totaled $9,100 under the old rate schedule.
Then the commissioners improved an increase in the fees for surgery.
‘We understand your justification for the new rates,’ Eckart said, adding that the commissioners will need to seek additional funds for the program or less animals will be sterilized.
Goldman’s motion to allow the new rates was seconded by Commissioner Jim Heitkemper. ‘I’m just thrilled to have her help,’ Heitkemper said.
Janes and other veterinarians participating in the program will be paid $30 to spay female cats (an increase of $10); $20 to neuter a male cat (no increase); $50 for female dogs and males weighing 50 pounds or less, and $70 for animals that weigh more than 50 pounds.
Larger animals require more time, additional help, more anesthesia and larger doses of medication, Janes said.
Pregnant dogs or cats will cost an additional $10. If the litter is full-term, an additional $25 will be paid to cover the cost of euthanizing the kittens or puppies.
The surgical procedure for pregnant animals is bloodier and requires more time. ‘There’s a lot of costs involved,’ Janes added.
Harrison County residents participating in the program must pay $10 for a rabies shot if the pet is not up-to-date on vaccinations.
Additionally, the resident must provide proof that the dog tax has been paid.
Eckart said once an animal control facility has been built, some 1,400 animals are expected to be euthanized each year. He questioned Janes as to the difference in euthanizing with an injection or carbon monoxide.
‘There’s no difference,’ she said. ‘Both are painless. The dog gets tired, lays down and goes to sleep.’
Carbon monoxide would be easier and less expensive because the procedure would not require a veterinarian, she said.
Having a surgical room at the facility so animals can be spayed or neutered before adoption is important, Janes said. ‘I feel so strongly about it, I would consider donating the equipment,’ she said.