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Animal Shelter Funding May Not Be Slam Dunk

The $1.16 million price tag may be a concern for at least some councilors.

As the City Council vote on funding the Attleboro Animal Shelter project approaches, there has been some action taking place behind the scenes that could mean at least some councilors are concerned about the $1.16 million price tag.

Several sources contacted Attleboro Patch saying City Councilor Brian Kirby, who heads the council's Budget and Appropriations Committee, was trying to form a voting bloc to reject Mayor Kevin Dumas' proposal for the city to seek a $1.16 million loan to fund the construction of a 3,600-square-foot facility. He wants the price of the project to go down closer to the city's original $600,000 estimate, sources say.

"There is nothing I can do to bring down the cost of the animal shelter," wrote Kirby in an email response to a request for comment from Attleboro Patch. "But because the public hearing is closed, I cannot comment further."

Kirby's oath of silence apparently does not apply to The Sun Chronicle. He told the newspaper he and other councilors have had "sticker shock," but that he would not oppose the loan order, according to an article published Saturday.

Barry LaCasse, the city's finance director, issued a memo to councilors Friday with a timeline of how the cost estimate was reached (the memo is attached to this article). He wrote that the memo was in response to Councilor Mark Cooper's "request for an explanation on the evolution of the cost estimates for the proposed new animal shelter."

LaCasse wrote, "It is certainly understandable that a cost estimate of $1.1m for an animal shelter would raise questions. However, animal shelters require certain features not found or required in more traditional municipal buildings. Well designed animal shelters, for example, will require more sound barrier construction; separate HVAC systems for administrative and animal areas to ensure proper air quality throughout the building; numerous floor drains; and flooring that must be durable, easily cleanable, resilient and non-absorbent, just to name a few."

Cooper did not immediately respond to a Friday afternoon email from Patch requesting comment.

The original cost estimate for the project was $600,000. While receiving bids for the design of the project in March, the Municipal Building Commission learned that contractors believed the price would be much higher, according to LaCasse's memo. 

Building Commission Chair Jack Jacobi told the council that the cost would be significantly higher than originally estimated at a public meeting in June. Jay DiLisio was the only councilor to respond with concern. 

"I just want to see where we overshot so badly, what was behind it," said DiLisio at a meeting that came one week after Jacobi revealed the updated cost estimate.

He added, "In no way am I taking away my support for this project. I just want to make sure that we're doing what we need to do to make sure we are being, as we've said so many times, the stewards of the funds of the city."

A public hearing on the loan order took place Tuesday. More than 100 people came to the council chambers to support the project. Nobody spoke in opposition, although one resident said he believed the project cost was too high. The council will vote on the funding next Tuesday. At least eight councilors must vote for the loan order for it to be approved.

Josie White January 21, 2013 at 06:48 PM
There are many skilled individuals that live in this city who may want to devote their time, and trade for less. Has anyone pursued this option? How did Pawt. animal shelter raise their funds? Their shelter puts ours to shame.
paul January 21, 2013 at 06:53 PM
The topic to me is taxes/funding. Mr. Glass has several good questions in the third comment on his thread. Why don't you do some research and answer them for us? Who knows what people will do when they don't get what they want, that's all I'm saying. Why don't you tell us what is going to happen if this new shelter gets axed?
James January 21, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Reason - You just might have it wrong! Without them trying to save every pit bull that comes along then the ACO would be able to do their job!! These volunteers are just like a pack of wild dogs themselves. Let anyone of them hear you speaking against a "lovable" pit bull then they will circle you and tell you just how wrong you are and that you need to be "educated" on the merits of a pit bull. And I speak from experience on this one - so don't try and tell me otherwise. These shelter people are just a vicous as the breeds they defend. And don't tell me to come to a council meeting and speak up then I would surely be attacked by these so called good people day in and day out. I totally understand why so many people don't speak up in public but rather here to voice an opinion. I no longer attend public places where I know that this shelter is bringing one of it's dogs to parade around. I don't think that they should be allowed to traipse these dogs to public places unless they are willing to take the liability when someone is bitten. They may have signed a waiver when the chose to volunteer at the shelter, but I did not sign a waiver that I would not sue the city if one of the shelter dogs bit me at either LaSallet or the mall or other public places. Believe me, if I was bitten by one of the shelter dogs while at at public facility and having not signed any waiver, I WOULD go after the city big time. You want to save them - then keep them at the "new" shelter.
Attleboro Resident January 21, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Paul, as I said before, I don’t have all the answers, I never claimed I did. But, I did attend the town hall meeting the other night and have asked the appropriate people some questions I had. That is all I am saying is, people have very strong opinions, but don't always voice them in the correct forum. Plus, people do have good ideas on alternatives, but have they brought them up other than on Patch?
George Glass January 21, 2013 at 07:45 PM
Per Dawn: "Have a heart people its only money, make more"... how rich. That is the philosophy that the volunteers are using to get the shelter built.. its only money, the tax payers will kick in more... we are worth it. What an outrageous statement.
George Glass January 21, 2013 at 07:51 PM
I support Paul in his statements. You may not want to admit it AR.. but it is true. Also, Yes I have expressed my opinion with several councilmen (and woman) They are afraid of you too. It is a reelection year. The Mayor made a promise to the volunteers. It would look so bad if he went back on his word. As I have stated, I support a new shelter, just one that is less expensive.
Attleboro Resident January 21, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Ahh James, the truth comes out..... This is where I will be ending this conversation on my end. It is not worth it for me or anyone to try to give facts since you will be stuck in your ways and closed minded. There is a great deal of literature and studies out there that show bite records by breed that will prove your theories completely wrong. I have been to many council meetings on various topics (not just the animal shelter) and I have never seen anyone (even me) get personally attacked while voicing their opinion to the council. If there was an incident, it was not at those meetings I have attended.
Betty L. Colol January 21, 2013 at 08:00 PM
And plenty of the volunteers are taxpayers
George Glass January 21, 2013 at 08:02 PM
I find it interesting AR, There was a man (Steve Hopkins) who spoke "neither for nor against' the animal shelter and voice similar concerns as stated here. I bumped into an acquaintance that is a shelter volunteer and the first thing that was said was "could you believe that guy? He has no idea what he is talking about..." I give Steve MAJOR credit for manning up and voicing his concerns! Now I can only imagine that you will say.."Why didn't you speak up?" The answer is simple. I didn't want to become public enemy #1.
Attleboro Resident January 21, 2013 at 08:07 PM
George, I give Steve major credit also, I really do. But that is just one person that mentioned that after the meeting, not everyone thinks that. Was he verbally attacked while speaking? Was he verbally attacked after speaking? All I am trying to get the point across is that there needs to be more people like Steve that do stand up for what they believe in and not just post here. There are many other options of doing that, like writing letters to your councilmen and congressmen, etc. That is my point, I do understand that some people dont want to stand up at a meeting like that, but we elect these officials for a reason and people need to express their concerns if they dont like something. That is the only way something will be done.
George Glass January 21, 2013 at 08:16 PM
AR, I have done those things. I truly have. unfortunately the animal shelter lobby is vicious and strong.. Have you read other articles on The Patch with regard to this topic or others? Any opposing voice is swiftly and immediately ridiculed and beaten back into a corner. Surprisingly your ability to represent the Shelter folk is refreshing, educated and calm. Unfortunately the reputation of shelter supporters is already tarnished buy their aggressiveness. There was a deafening silence from the animal lobby leading up to the public hearing. I find that interesting. Was there a gag order imposed???
Attleboro Resident January 21, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Hi George. I appreciate the fact that you have contacted the councilmen and did express your opinions. I truly respect that and believe that more people (not even in this city but country) should do the same. Also, thanks for the kind words. I do support the animal shelter and speak from my own experience with dogs (especially pit bulls). I also do respect everyone's opinions and views and just try my best to inform them of the facts that I do know. I know you mention the some of the comments have been aggressive on this thread and others regarding the new animal shelter, I do feel those have come from both sides. I just wish there weren’t attacks on people’s characters because once that happens, then the debate is over and it gets personal.
James January 21, 2013 at 09:58 PM
What truth is that AR? That I don't like it when a group of people verbally attack me at a public facility for saying how I am afraid of dogs and that they should not have been allowed in the facility? I never once said that I was attacked verbally at a council meeting so read what you will. I stand by my thoughts that a dog, unless it is a service dog should not be allowed to be traipsed around seeking either funds or adoption at public facilities. I know for a fact that some of these animals are taken outside of the shelter and that in itself is a big risk for the city and should not be allowed. I don't think that I should have to worry about shopping or a visit to any place because of dogs. If I wanted to be around them, then I would go to the shelter myself. Keep them there in there brand new fancy digs...just don't bring them around public places where there truly are many who just either don't like dogs (those horrid people) or are afraid of them.
Attleboro Resident January 21, 2013 at 10:41 PM
James, I was commenting on the fact you mentioned that the breeds the volunteer defend are vicious and it is why I am going to politely end the conversation on my end. Originally I was under the impression (from your previous posts) that you were against the shelter because of costs, but then you just stated that fact regarding your views on pitbulls. I responded that there are many facts and studies that prove this so called theory to be false and that the fact is, it is not illegal to have dogs in a public place with people (unless otherwise stated). Also, I have not read in the newspaper or have heard from shelter volunteers of any issues regarding dogs biting people while they are in these places. I understand your fear of dogs and I am not attacking that in any way. I was not posting to get involved in a debate regarding breeds, and when I saw that, I do not want to comment further regarding breed specific information.
Betty L. Colol January 21, 2013 at 11:56 PM
http://www.cityofattleboro.us/pdf/cip1317.pdf Here's a refresher that an animal shelter has been in the capital improvement plan for almost a year.
James January 22, 2013 at 12:10 AM
Just read it and here is a copy of what was taken from this article: Animal Control - Design and Construction of a New Animal Shelter $600,000.00 Does it say 1 million? Didn't think so. No wonder people are so upset at a million dollar price tag. Next, they will be saying that because the new shelter is so BIG that they need for the city to provide more help. Next thing we know the volunteers will be on the city payroll and get all of the benefits too. Where will it end?
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Hey FB folks. Read this where on June 1, 2012 The Mayor includes a new animal shelter in his budget. http://www.cityofattleboro.us/citycouncil/meetings/pdf/min06012012.pdf .........cost to be determined. Why are you just paying attention to this now?
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 12:14 AM
June 5, 2012 $50,000 to pay for animal shelter design. http://www.cityofattleboro.us/citycouncil/meetings/pdf/min06052012.pdf
Steve Hopkins January 22, 2013 at 12:17 AM
Attention - I saw the missing 1 yr old golden retriever at my house on Oak Hill Ave. Tracks seem to lead into the woods towards Ritchie Rd. It was a rescue thru out shelter I believe, just recently adopted. I saw it at about 6:30 on my back deck. It scooted away when I stood up. Tried to track it but lost trail in woods behind my house -
Steve Hopkins January 22, 2013 at 12:18 AM
If you know anyone on Richie Rd give them a call to look out for it.
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Here it is...August. Cost of about $1 million. http://www.thesunchronicle.com/attleboro/planning-begins-for-new-attleboro-animal-shelter/article_60e54d8e-d6e2-51f4-b8b0-52cff1e0d566.html Building Commission Meeting are posted and open to the public. Why didn't all you naysayers go then?
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 12:34 AM
http://www.thesunchronicle.com/vip/news/local_news/new-animal-shelter-to-cost-city-million/article_409d1ce2-43e5-5fb4-a865-6dc5929bdd85.html Don't you folks read?
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 12:38 AM
And last but not least http://attleboro.patch.com/articles/animal-shelter-cost-to-exceed-1-million
Roxanne Houghton January 22, 2013 at 12:54 AM
Josie Pawtucket put the question of a multi-million dollar shelter on the ballot. It won overwhelmingly - without all of this ignorance and ugliness. Their shelter is beautiful - even has a surgical suite to neuter animals. The people of Pawtucket are very proud of their facility. The state does not allow people to volunteer their trade to build a new facility. You might call the Governors office to discuss this with him. There are absolutely NO suggestions here that have not been looked into - not one. The Mayor has done his due diligence.
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 01:40 AM
Gee. Kirby attempting to "was trying to form a voting bloc to reject Mayor Kevin Dumas' proposal for the city to seek a $1.16 million loan to fund the construction of a 3,600-square-foot facility. " Isn't that a violation of the open meeting law.
George Glass January 22, 2013 at 01:42 AM
I didn't like the price tag then, and I don't now. Just because I am voicing my opinion under this article doesn't mean I didn't know what was going on!.. AGAIN i will state, I am not against a shelter being built, I find the cost to be way too high.
George Glass January 22, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Why are we paying attention now? Because of the Public hearing that took place last Tuesday night. And this article. Oh and the one in the Sun Chronicle. And the vote that will take place tomorrow night. It is what is on the forfront of many minds now that it is down to the wire.
Kim Penque January 22, 2013 at 08:06 PM
Steve she was just spotted in the area again - PLEASE keep your eye out. People are in route to try and track her now! SHE WAS NOT adopted from the Shelter!!!
Jerry Chase January 22, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Only one solution: a new tax on dog food! "Those who bark must pay for the park!"
Dolly January 22, 2013 at 11:49 PM
There is $800,000. of debt service being retired this year. That's a loan of more than $10,000,000. These three projects if bonded for 12 years will total approximately less than $700,000. in debt service at current rates. However, rates may change within the time it takes to go to bond. Still, it's predicted that it will not be as high as the debt being retired. No increase in taxes due to THESE three projects. Taxes will always go up within the prop 2 1/2 % allowed.

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