Board of Supervisors approve new animal shelter funding

BY ANNA EGELAND | JUNE 15, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Thursday night to provide funding for the Iowa City animal shelter, which will replace the shelter destroyed in the 2008 flood.

The estimated contribution from the supervisors, through county tax revenue, toward capital and operational costs is $268,165, with $126,000 going toward capital costs and $142,165 toward operational costs.

Misha Goodman, the director of the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center, said the supervisors' decision will help the planning move forward.

"Knowing this particular piece really helps in knowing the particular size and design and the number of animals we can accommodate," she said.

The total cost of the shelter is estimated at $3 million. The shelter plans to raise $1 million toward the cost.

Goodman said Neumann Monson architects, shelter personnel, the city architect, and the city manager will work with others to develop the initial schematic design.

Supervisor Sally Stutsman, who voted against the proposal, said she preferred the alternative solution of using the Cedar Valley Humane Society to avoid using tax revenue to fund the project.

"The other thing I stated any number of times is I don't agree with county residents contributing to the costs of an animal shelter," she said, noting this method was not approved to fund the justice center.

Supervisor Terrence Neuzil, who had previously remained undecided, ultimately decided to vote in favor of the Iowa City plan for public-safety reasons.

"I'm trying to base my decision on public safety," he said. "At some point, what we're going to see is the potential of animals being ignored and as they are, they become potentially dangerous to residents."

Neuzil said that he had been trying to keep an open mind to constituents' concerns and that he had heard from about 25 to 30 constituents who had all voiced support for the Iowa City plan.

Supervisor Janelle Rettig voiced strong support for the Iowa City plan during Thursday's meeting.

"I believe animal control is a regional effort, and we have to get people to care for the animals they have and to spay and neuter them," she said, noting that the animal shelter plays an important part in educating the community.

While Supervisor Rod Sullivan voted in favor of the proposal, he voiced some frustration with the options provided for rural residents. "No matter which way you go here, things are not as good for rural residents. Whichever way you choose … rural residents either pay a lot more or drive a lot farther," he said.

Supervisor Pat Harney also expressed concern for rural residents.

"I have concerns about the increase in rural taxes to pay for the animal shelter, but on the other hand, I really like the regional approach," he said.

Several supervisors also expressed frustration with the way in which Iowa City has handled the plan for the new shelter.

"In my mind, I feel like this has really soured me on future cooperation with Iowa City …" Sullivan said. "I am not confident that we won't be done wrong somehow on future cooperation with Iowa City."

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