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Shelter group makes final visit to city council

The Pike Animal Shelter group came before the Troy City Council for its third and likely final time Tuesday in hopes of securing a long-term funding partnership.

But, the group, along with other agencies, will be waiting for that decision until the city is prepared to present its next budget, which begins Oct. 1.

The group is seeking around $82,000 per year from the city to fund the operations of a new animal shelter to replace the current facility run by the Troy Police Department.

A city funding commitment is all the group members have said is lacking in the building of a facility that will house both cats and dogs and fund one and a half jobs, among other things.

“We are at the top of the mountain and ready to build this shelter, and we appreciate the community bringing us to this point,” said Donna Schubert, chair of the shelter’s founders’ society. “There is no doubt a very pressing need for animal resources.”

Schubert did present options to council members Tuesday to reduce the city’s expense by using in-kind resources.

Some of those included using a current city employee to assist in the part-time role of the shelter operations; using the city’s Website to host the shelter’s page; and providing in-kind water, sewer, electric, garbage and maintenance and grounds costs with city services.

If the council chose that route, the shelter group could ask for around $58,000 per year instead.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said the shelter isn’t the only group seeking new funds this year, and it would take some review before he could provide a recommendation.

With planning completed on the project to build a new Troy Public Library, plus official funding requests from the Boys and Girls Club and the Pike County Emergency Management Agency, Lunsford said the city would need to take a look at where it stands financially.

“The way we look at appropriations is we have a pool of money, and that pool has been reduced over the last year,” Lunsford said.

The approximately $550,000 fund is used on agencies like the Pike County Economic Development Corporation and East Central Mental Health, for example.

“And we’ve got to fit all this in. If our budget allows us to increase, we’ve got more room to do that. If not, we will have to shift priorities,” Lunsford said.

Though the funding of Troy Regional Medical Center is not part of the city’s appropriations funds, Lunsford said its operations will play a role in these decisions.

“The hospital stands on its own, but obviously in the entire budgeting process it plays a role,” Lunsford said. “The way I read the financials, the hospital seems to be turning around and should not be a negative. But, I’ve got to confirm where we actually stand before I make recommendations.”

The shelter group currently has two acres of land on Henderson Highway dedicated to its future home, and members say they believe the building will be a positive business investment for the council to make.

“The city of Troy has a lot of excellent things. We have an excellent Airport, excellent Sportsplex, but a bad little doghouse,” said Chris Schubert, group member.

“We can turn this into a source of pride for our community.”

In its last visit with the city council, the shelter group took the council on a visit to the shelter, where some 20 dogs had been euthanized sometime before the visit. Before the group left, Lunsford spoke on the situation.

“I take full responsibility for the incident you observed,” he said. “When (the shelter group) told me they were going to visit the shelter, they said they didn’t want me to tell the Police Chief we were going so they wouldn’t do an unusual cleaning.”

But, Lunsford said the dogs had already been euthanized by that time.

Also in council business, the city joined a partnership with the Southeast Alabama Gas District to form a new supply for wholesale distribution of gas to large suppliers.

It’s a move that was requested by SEAGD to form a new partnership with its 14-member owners, which include Troy and surrounding cities. The partnership could ultimately bring new revenues to the city.

The council also granted a retail liquor license to Buffalo Junction Sports Grill that is getting new ownership and passed a resolution to dilapidate a home at 105 Hodges Street.