Are Supervisors Partially Responsible for Rising Animal Shelter Cost?
In recent months, some Supervisors have expressed growing concern about the cost of the County Animal Shelter renovation and 11,000 square-foot expansion project, which has escalated to around $6-7 million. This project would expand the Shelter to a roughly 19,000 square-foot facility that is estimated to meet county needs for the next 15-20 years.
It was not too long ago that some of these same Supervisors balked at the initial cost estimate of $3.8 million. In the Spring of 2014, Sheriff Harris endorsed the idea of an Animal Shelter renovation and expansion, which followed a February 2014 State Inspection Report and policy change to a “no kill” shelter.
At this time, the Board moved to have the project included in the 2014 Bond Referendum, which $3.8 million was associated with the project. The referendum question associated with the Animal Shelter was approved by County residents in November 2014.
In April 2015, the Board approved the Capital Improvement Plan that included a $3.8 million Animal Shelter project. So why three years later are we still waiting to finalize the bidding process? Perhaps there was never any intention to conduct the build out until 2019 or beyond. If that is the case, Supervisors grumblings over cost should be tempered as the cost was certainly assured to increase over time due to an improved economy and inflation. Five of the seven Supervisors were on the Board throughout this process, but no escalation of the project was ever taken. This neglect and delay certainly has contributed to additional costs of several millions of dollars during this period.
For context, in 2010 King George’s new animal shelter was built at a cost of $1.67 million for a 5,700 square-foot facility. If memory serves correctly, Stafford County spent between $5-6 million for a roughly 15,000 square-foot facility several years ago.
The Board's conservative majority proclaims to be the champion of the taxpayers and limited government. However, in this instance delays of government spending has ultimately hurt the taxpayers of Spotsylvania County, potentially to the tune of 2 pennies on the real estate tax rate for not more enthusiastically pushing forward a project that falls under the purview of county government. The alternative is to massively scale back the project to the original cost estimate, which would require a future Board to make the touch choices to meet the County's long term needs in a more efficient manner. We must do better in order to keep taxes lower and run our local government more efficiently.
Click here to read a recent Scott Shenk Free Lance-Star on the Animal Shelter project.
Click here to read a 2016 Jeff Branscome Free Lance-Star article on the Animal Shelter.
Click here to read a 2015 Jeff Branscome Free Lance-Star article on the Animal Shelter.