KCMO Council green-lights $18 million animal shelter

 

Paul Thompson
Northeast News

In April 2017, KCMO voters approved an expected $14 million outlay of General Obligation bond funds for the construction of a new animal shelter in Swope Park.

On April 5, 2018, those voters got more than they bargained for, as the City Council approved an $18 million appropriation for the animal shelter in a unanimous vote.

According to Finance and Governance chair Scott Wagner, the extra $4 million will cover a $2 million increase in the cost of materials for the new shelter, as well as extra costs related to the decision to turn the shelter campus into a co-location for animal control services.

The $18 million contribution is contingent upon shelter operator Kansas City Pet Project gathering $5 million in cash or commitments towards the new campus, though 4th District Councilwoman Jolie Justus suggested on April 5 that the requirement wouldn’t be an impediment.

“We learned that as of last night, the private fundraising arm of this is already up to $3.8 million,” Justus said. “They secured another very large contribution last night, so we’re only $1.2 million away from putting a shovel in the ground.”

The unanimously-passed ordinance doesn’t address the other lingering issue hanging over the new animal shelter: which entity will be handling the animal control operations at the new facility. Kansas City Pet Project has made no secret of its desire to take over those services from the City’s Animal Health and Public Safety (AHPS) department. Mayor Sly James asked about that issue before the unanimous vote.

“Does the $2 million allocated for co-location have any commensurate decrease in the animal control budget as it currently sits?” James asked.

The answer, according to Wagner, was no.

“It doesn’t deal with that, and it doesn’t deal with the question that has been asked and is currently being discussed related to actually who will perform that function; whether it continues to be within the purview of the city, or whether that goes to a different provider,” Wagner said.

Wagner added that the new animal shelter will likely end up costing the City an additional $2.4 million in operating costs on an annual basis.

“Ultimately, when a new shelter is built, we will estimate an increase to the general fund as part of the operations of the shelter, which would go from its present $1.4 million to approximately $3.8 million,” Wagner said.

Second District Councilwoman Teresa Loar indicated, however, that the increase in the operational budget could be offset by private contributions.
“We are also working towards an endowment, too, to help offset the operational costs of the facility,” Loar said.

As the shelter project proceeds, the uncertainty regarding animal control services will continue to be an open question. During an Audit Report Tracking System (ARTS) presentation last month, City Auditor Doug Jones said that the 2017 audit recommendations for AHPS were intended as a road map towards a better department.

KCPP Vice President and co-founder Michelle Davis, however, publicly suggested that the relationship between KCPP and AHPS was irreconcilable.

“Animal Control has indicated that they will not be cooperating with us while privatization is on the table,” Davis said. “We’ve not made any progress on a shared vision.”

Meanwhile, AHPS Director Deletta Dean said after that meeting that Davis’s claims were news to her.

“I wasn’t sure what she was saying,” Dean said. “I hadn’t heard that; staff hadn’t reported back that they had refused to communicate with Kansas City Pet Project, so that’s the first that I heard of it.”

Dean had testified during the presentation that the negative news stories surrounding the City’s animal control services – especially as it related to potential privatization by KCPP – had begun impacting recruitment and retention of animal control officers.

“I think that with Kansas City Pet Project, it’s been made public now that they have put a bid out and requested to take over animal control,” Dean said. “Until some decision is made, which obviously is going to be at a higher level than we are, we’re going to continue to partner with them, to work with them, and try to do what’s best for the citizens.”

Comments are closed.

  • Porch collapse hastens repair of historic home

    19 hours ago
    by

    By Michael Bushnell Northeast News The front porch of the famed “cougar house” at 441 Bellefontaine collapsed Wednesday morning following […]


    Neighborhood and Housing Services on the state of the porch collapse on Bellefontaine

    22 hours ago
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News A house in the 400 block of Bellefontaine partially collapsed Wednesday afternoon following heavy rains over […]


    Proposed library levy increase would benefit North-East branch

    August 15th, 2018
    by

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News The North-East branch of the Kansas City Public Library system would be a primary benefactor […]


    SVN cuts ribbon on new learning space

    August 14th, 2018
    by

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News Seventh and eight-grade students at Scuola Vita Nuova (SVN) will be learning in state-of-the-art new […]


    Police chase leads to fatal Northeast car crash

    August 14th, 2018
    by

    Paul Thompson Northeast News A man driving a stolen truck fled from police and caused a fatal car crash in […]


  • Northeast Newscast Episode 58 – a conversation w/ Jason Kander, KCMO Mayoral candidate

    August 10th, 2018
    by

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News This week on Kansas City’s Northeast Newscast, managing editor Paul Thompson sits down with 2019 […]


    KCPD East Patrol set to tackle new pet project

    August 8th, 2018
    by

    Paul Thompson Northeast News A new partnership in development at the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department’s East Patrol Division will […]


    James, Parson comment on KCMO issues during Governor’s visit

    August 8th, 2018
    by

    Paul Thompson Northeast News Standing atop the pitching mound on Alex Gordon Family Field – an indoor practice space at […]


    August 7 Primary Election Results

    August 7th, 2018
    by

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News Kansas City voters weighed in on a right-to-work law, a municipal rental inspection program and […]


    Kansas City PAL Center hosts Back to School Field Day

    August 7th, 2018
    by

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News Hundreds of new faces showed up at the KCPD Police Athletic League (PAL) Center at […]


  • What’s Happening

    Norman School: A proud testament to Historic Preservation

    Norman School in the 3500 block of Jefferson was built in 1898 by John Perry, Principal of the Keith & […]

    Frontier Schools: Summer Solar Car Challenge

    retorts illustrated by bryan stalder

  • Local Weather