New shelter may fall on city to fund
By RICK MORAIN
For The Jefferson Herald
Members of the Jefferson city council at a special meeting Friday appeared to agree that the city will probably need to get involved financially in order to bring the proposed animal shelter project to fruition.
Project committee chair Don Orris at the previous two council meetings had discussed the financial gap between the private contribution total raised so far and the contractor bids, which came in about twice as high as Orris had projected.
The current gap, according to Orris, is between $500,000 and $600,000.
The low bid of the five received was $1,007,000 — about twice as high as the committee expected. Orris had hoped for a low bid of about $500,000.
Orris has recommended, and the council appeared to agree, that the recent bids be rejected and that the city readvertise for bids in January or February, in the hope that the current hot construction market for contractors will ease by then.
Orris also plans to work with the project’s architect to reduce the size of the building itself and make other changes to the plans, thereby reducing its cost.
Orris’ committee had initially hoped to raise about $1 million.
When that goal proved too lofty, Orris changed the design to a metal building, cut back on the size of the building and changed the type of air handling, as well as other aspects, in order to bring the cost down to the anticipated level of bids.
There’s not a lot left that can be cut from the project, he has said.
Council members on Friday said they have received considerable vocal support from local residents for the project.
The current animal shelter adjacent to the city’s wastewater treatment plant at the southwest edge of town falls woefully short of meeting state requirements. At some point, it’s likely that state officials will declare it can no longer house animals.
On other topics at the Friday meeting, the council approved the purchase of programmable controllers for the city water plant to replace existing, manually operated control panels, which are 25 years old and have become undependable. Recently one of the panels went down for several hours, and while electricians were trying to repair it, it came back on by itself.
Estimated total cost of the new controllers is $82,110. The council agreed to purchase them at a price not to exceed $90,000, to allow for unforeseen expenses. Money for the replacements was set aside in December 2019. The replacements qualify as emergency repairs.
The council also approved a contract for four more Tasers for the police department to add to the current four.
The five-year contract for the new ones is $2,880 per year, or a total of $14,500 for the five years. The city will use funds that are already in the police budget.
The council approved hiring Sarah Morlan as an accounting clerk/administrative assistant starting Jan. 4 at a yearly salary of $40,000.
The current agreement with Sebourn Video Services for public video viewing of city council meetings is about to expire. The council indicated it was favorable to signing a new yearly contract for the service.