Financial footing

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Pike Animal Shelter officials and Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford are expected to meet today to discuss a city-funded commitment.

The shelter, which will serve as the new shelter for the city of Troy, has already entered a partnership with the city.

But, the group is looking to take that partnership a little further in financial backing — the missing element to the shelter’s completion.

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Chair of the Founder’s Society Donna Schubert approached the Troy City Council late last year seeking a long-term commitment of around $75,000 annually, and Lunsford told her he would reevaluate his budget in January.

However, considering economic times, the city has not been able to provide that commitment just yet.

“I have not told them no, but I’ve not been able to say, ‘yes, we’ll be able to give you a long term commitment,’” Lunsford said.

Lunsford said sales tax figures have continued to be down around 2 percent on average this year, a hindrance in both filling positions and making appropriations.

“I still have not hired any new hires or new positions,” he said.

“I’m not adding any new agencies at this time.”

He said he doesn’t believe the purchase of Troy Regional Medical Center plays a factor in this situation.

“Not as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t,” Lunsford said.

“But we don’t know what impact we will have. We will have those conversations sometime pretty soon.”

Schubert said the plans for the shelter are well underway.

“Organizationally we are working with an architect in designing some building plans,” she said.

Those plans will be presented to Lunsford today.

The shelter will be located on property donated by Walt Stell and Andy Murphree on Henderson Highway in Troy.

It will be a facility that holds up to 45 cats and 30 dogs.

Currently, the city’s shelter can hold just 15 dogs.

Currently, there is no shelter in the county for unwanted cats.

Each animal will have its own kennel, and there will be a dog park for families to bring their pets and play.

“Everyone, the city and the non-profit, is at the table trying to figure out what’s best,” Schubert said.

“The very good news for everyone, from my perspective, is the city budgeting process is a very thoughtful one, and I’m glad the needs of the community, animal control and animal welfare are heard.”

The shelter will continue to be run by Troy Police Department’s Animal Control officers.

“The animal control officers’ jobs are not going to change,” she said.

What will change is having a facility with regular hours and additional employees to assist with the day-to-day care of the animals at the shelter.

Schubert said the shelter will still be asking for $75,000 in a long-term commitment.

“Unfortunately building something that is lasting, that is durable and clean is not an inexpensive task,” Schubert said.

The funding for the current city shelter comes from the Troy Police Department budget, but Chief Anthony Everage said its funds are not a separate line item.

There are two animal control officers, who are also sworn officers that serve other police department duties, and things like the dogs’ medical expenses and food come from that budget.

While Schubert said this project is a multi-step project, funding is the element it lacks.

Lunsford said after today’s meeting, he will evaluate the request in the city budget and bring the information before the Troy City Council before any decisions are made.

There is no specific timeline on that.