Exploring options

The Auglaize County commissioners continue to explore their options for funding the construction of a new dog shelter.

“We are still trying to figure out where we are at financially with the building,” Commissioner Doug Spencer told Dog Warden Russ Bailey during a meeting this week. “We are looking at whether any advance is possible toward the Dog and Kennel Fund. There is still the potential that we may not be able to advance you but the need for a shelter has not lessened. Borrowing money for it may be the only viable option we have.”

Commissioners and Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey have made plans to visit the Darke County Dog Shelter during their next regularly scheduled monthly meeting in August.

“I want to go down there and check it out with you,” Commissioner John Bergman told Bailey. “They have some good common sense ideas in there.”

Bergman described the 10-year-old, 64-dog facility as a “no frills, functional building.”

With courthouse renovations wrapping up, commissioners said they are getting back into the position where they need to start looking at getting construction of a dog shelter underway.

“Obviously, the need has never changed,” Spencer said. “Unfortunately, it’s been there since 2008.”

Plans have been to work out a tentative repayment schedule for the dog shelter with commissioners still determining whether they would rebid the project, hoping to get a better rate. The last bid, which commissioners didn’t approve, came in at $530,000. Additional operational costs also need to be considered.

The county’s Dog and Kennel Fund should be able to contribute approximately $200,000 to start the project, but commissioners have been undecided about the best way to pay the remaining construction costs.

They have set a tentative goal of 2013 to get a new shelter opened and based on past bids, the county would need to come up with $330,000 additional to contribute to the building, to be constructed along U.S. 33 near the Auglaize County Fairgrounds and behind the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office. Utilities already have been installed to the planned site.

Dog tag sales, which are the main supporter of the county’s Dog and Kennel Fund, at 6,400 through June are above last year’s numbers and the highest they have been since Bailey took the position four years ago.

Bailey said they are hoping to reach a new high of 7,000 dog tags sold in Auglaize County by the end of the year.

“I think we will hit that or be real close and we haven’t put as many hours into it as we usually do yet,” Bailey said. “Even without going door-to-door, we are selling tags each week.”

Commissioners have said they do not want to scale down plans for the dog shelter any further and that they would like to start construction by late fall.

Bergman said he doesn’t want to shortchange maintenance items, which could make the facility harder to clean and allow for easier spread of disease.

“We need to have an adequate shelter,” Bergman said. “The one thing I know for sure is where we are at now is not a long-term solution.”

Plans for the new 2,300-square foot shelter include 24 kennels and are already pretty basic, by commissioners’ descriptions.

“It’s been very surprising to us how much a simple dog shelter facility costs, but at some point, we just need to get it done,” Spencer said.