Price tag for Pima's new animal center comparable to elsewhere, Huckelberry says

2014-04-05T00:00:00Z Price tag for Pima's new animal center comparable to elsewhere, Huckelberry saysBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The $22 million price tag of a proposed new Pima Animal Care Center is about the same as similar modern animal shelters in other cities, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said in a new memo.

The county Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed seek voter approval of $22 million in bonds for a new animal shelter in November’s general election. But Republican Supervisor Ally Miller and others questioned whether the cost is too high.

Miller posted a message on her Facebook page a couple of weeks ago, saying she would not support voting for the measure because of excessive fees for consultants, furniture and inflation.

Huckelberry acknowledged the currently projected fees for engineers and other consultants would make up 14 percent of the facility’s total costs, which is more than the typical 12 percent for most complex projects.

He said the cost is higher due to the wide scope of work required for the shelter.

According to the memo, the new animal shelter would require medical and surgery facilities, public areas for licensing and community gatherings, and an area for the center’s law-enforcement officers.

The consulting and professional fees include paying for mechanical, electrical, structural and civil engineers, an architect, plumbing designers, medical-equipment consultants and other specialists.

Huckelberry also noted the projected cost model is not an actual final cost, which could be lower than projected.

But Miller said she believes the estimate “is filled with excessive fees,” adding in her Facebook critique that she found it “very disappointing we could not get at least three competitive bids on the cost of these improvements to review before putting this question before the voters.”

Some people have criticized the cost model during the call to the audience at recent board meetings, with one speaker asking if it was “gold-plated.”

In addition to paying for the facility itself, other potential costs include acquisition of land from Tucson Electric Power Co. for an adjacent 3-acre site, which would cost between $50,000 and $110,000.

The additional land could provide space for animal exercising, as well as serve as a buffer to the surrounding area.

Other costs include money for furniture, fixtures, equipment and technology, actual construction and a contingency fund to cover unexpected expenses.

The county is comparing this project to other newer animal shelters in Maricopa County and the California communities of Sacramento, Contra Costa, Bakersfield and Irvine.

The total cost for those shelters ranged from about $16 million to $23 million.

Sacramento’s shelter, which cost $23.7 million, features a medical clinic, an area to spay and neuter shelter animals, a stand-alone clinic for low-cost spaying and neutering of animals of private owners, a dog park and a barn for livestock.

The facility opened in October 2009, said Sacramento Animal Control Director David Dickinson.

The shelter has more rescue programs than before, which has led to an increase in adoptions and fewer animals euthanized, Dickinson said

The public’s perception of animal control has also changed since moving out of the former shelter, which he compared to a prison.

“Everything is indoors. It has central heat and air conditioning,” he said. “It’s a more inviting atmosphere for people to look at animals.”

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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