The Animal Foundation’s regional shelter that houses thousands of pets each year needs a $13.2 million makeover, Clark County commissioners were told Tuesday.
There are plenty of problems with conditions at the foundation-operated Lied Shelter building, which the county and the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas rely on. About 40,000 animals arrive there every year, coming from animal control officers and the public and staying there for 72 hours.
The roof is in disrepair, with the weight of air conditioners and swamp coolers placing excessive stress on it. Concrete floors are saturated with water from constant washing to remove urine and feces. Chain-link fences for the kennels are deteriorating, and eventually will rust from the moisture. The air conditioning units are in poor shape; finding replacement parts during breakdowns is challenging.
Commissioners, however, aren’t giving the foundation a blank check for the project — if they give one at all. They appeared skeptical Tuesday, given the project’s price tag and the county’s other mounting budget needs.
Commissioners discussed if the county should pay for half of a $13.1 million renovation of the shelter building.
The county contracts with the nonprofit Animal Foundation for services to shelter animals for 72 hours after they are brought in by the public or county animal control officers. The Animal Foundation also houses animals through contracts with the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.
Commissioners expressed concerns about the costs. The county hasn’t yet identified a funding source for the potential project, or decided if it will help out.
Under its contract with the Animal Foundation, the county isn’t required to pay for the renovation.
“$13 million is just way too big of a number with all the needs we have in the county,” said Commissioner Susan Brager.
Commissioner Tom Collins said the county has other pressing financial and infrastructure needs, which includes more police officers and adequate funding for the county Detention Center. He questioned the costs associated with the project and said mopping a sealer over concrete is uncomplicated.
The county’s contract with the foundation expires in June, and the county can do two five-year extensions at its discretion.
The county has several options. One is to go with another service provider when the contract ends in 2015. The county could extend its contract, but without investing in the renovation. Or it could renew the contract, and include the funding for the renovation.
Conditions will continue to deteriorate, heightening the health risks for animals if the county opts to continue using the shelter without renovations happening there, Sabra Smith Newby, the county’s chief administrative officer, told commissioners.
It was unclear Tuesday if the county will pay for the project.
County staff will continue negotiating with the foundation before a final decision comes about the contract, under the direction commissioners gave. County Manager Don Burnette told commissioners there’s no identified source of funding for the renovation in the current budget year, which started Tuesday.
“There are a number of needs,” Burnette said.
Christine Robinson, executive director of the Animal Foundation, said after the meeting that she looks forward to continue talking with the county and city about the issue. She said the shelter would like to start the project in the first quarter of next year, if possible, saying the building is in disrepair.
The idea also drew critics from the public who criticized the idea and questioned the costs.
“I’m all for spending money on animals, but you have to ask yourself: ‘Is this the right plan?’” said Bryce Henderson, who is a leader with No Kill Las Vegas, which is pushing to turn the shelter into a no-kill operation.
Issues at the Lied Shelter building are part of its recent history. The air conditioning design isn’t compatible with the number of animals at the facility and doesn’t do enough to prevent the spread of disease through ventilation systems.
The foundation in 2010 raised private donations and sealed hallways to help in high-traffic areas. But the concrete floor began peeling again in 2012.
Clark County has been using the foundation’s Lied shelter since 2006. The deal started as an effort to provide regional services.
Under the proposal, the city of Las Vegas would pay for the other half of the project. The City Council is expected to talk about that later this month.
The nonprofit part of the foundation’s campus, apart from the Lied Shelter, houses animals for adoption beyond the 72-hour period.
Contact Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.