Simplified dog shelter being considered

As the Auglaize County commissioners plan to move forward with construction of a dog shelter this year, talks of different ways to scale back costs are being discussed.

“Off and on we have been working on this for the last several years,” Auglaize County Commissioner John Bergman said. “It’s been way too long, but it is hard to justify the last bid amount we got for a dog pound.”

Bergman explained to date they yet to receive any reasonable, good bids on the proposed 2,200-square foot project.

Commissioners and Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey met with representatives of the Minster-based architectural firm Garmann-Miller & Associates this week to discuss different options for possibly bringing in lower bids. The commissioners are mulling over their options before coming back in a couple weeks to meet again with the architects who planned to figure harder costs and tweak plans as needed.

In the latest drawings, architect Brad Garmann presented two looks — one an all masonry building simplified to cut down on costs and the other a pre-engineered metal building. The latest drawings incorporated cost savings features of the Darke County dog shelter, which commissioners visited last fall.

Garmann explained they were all just options right now and it was up to the commissioners how far they wanted to go in cutting costs. The metal building, as designed, was expected to cut costs in half.

While not commissioners first pick, they said they did like the lower price tag.

Garmann, who could not provide actual cost estimates for the latest drawings at this time, said other possible ways shelter costs could be lowered would be using a single general contractor and a provision that takes effect at the end of September and doesn’t require prevailing wages be paid in projects of $250,000 and less.

“I wanted to share with you some options,” Garmann said. “We can bring these numbers down, maybe somewhere in-between. In this business, you get what you pay for.”

The lowest bid the last time the project was bid out was $530,000, $100,000 more than the estimated cost.

“There was not much to that building and it has definitely been a conundrum to me why costs are coming in so high,” Commissioner Doug Spencer said.

Describing the original building plans as simple, he said the latest design was really simple.

Throughout the talks about a shelter, Bergman has expressed concerns about not wanting to cheapen the building or make it harder to take care of operationally in the long run with immediate cost saving measures they may take now.

One item Bergman has continued to push for is special glazed tiling, which would make kennel cleanup both easier and more sanitary.

“This is a building that is going to be used every day,” said Bergman, who also talked about ways to improve insulation. “I am thinking about what they will be dealing with day in and day out.”

The commissioner would like to stay away from a building that looks like a “machine shop.”

“I am concerned about it,” Bergman said. “I already felt we had a bare bones building to begin with. I don’t want to give up too much of the inside functionalities.”

Spencer said they need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of building construction and features against potential cost savings.

The dog warden said his biggest concern was finding a way to provide for dogs to get outside of the facility on a concrete pad with some shading and some runs. These were scrapped with the scaled down plans.

“Hopefully, we can find a way to get the project done,” Spencer said. “It’s overdue.”

Blending the new shelter in with existing buildings — such as the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office and garage and the Auglaize County Educational Service Center — also is something commissioners have been vocal about throughout the planning process. The new shelter is to be located along U.S. 33 near the Auglaize County Fairgrounds and behind the Sheriff’s Office on county property, to which utilities already have been extended.

Extensive searches were done for existing buildings that would meet needs in 2008, before commissioners determined that they could not find a good match both in an existing structure and a location appropriate for a county dog shelter.

“We found renovating a facility could be just as costly if not more so,” Spencer said.

A temporary location in a building adjacent to the Neil Armstrong Airport outside of New Knoxville has been used far beyond the six months to a year originally expected.

In addition to not being large enough for the necessary supplies or the number of dogs the dog warden handles, the temporary facility has been a nightmare to heat and has no available hot water, said Spencer, describing how Bailey carries buckets of hot water from the airport to use in the makeshift kennel, which itself was hard to find.

“He’s done a great job keeping the building sanitized, but it is not an easy chore,” Spencer said. “This was supposed to be nothing more than a short term answer out of immediate necessity that we thought would bridge the gap.”

Spencer said now it is “the sooner the better” on getting the dog warden’s operations into a new shelter.

“We hope to get it done yet this year,” Spencer said. “I know what we are in now and we need to be out of there.”

At this point, the county’s Dog and Kennel Fund could cover approximately 40 percent of construction costs for a new building but it wouldn’t have enough to fund the whole project.

“We will probably have to take a look at advancing from the Permanent Improvement Fund and use yearly dog tag sales to pay it back,” Spencer said, explaining the more simple the plan the more the Dog and Kennel Fund could cover. “The question is over the long run, is paying an additional $200,000 for a building we desired and designed worth it?”