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Denton finds funds for new animal shelter

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

Denton city staff members have identified two pots of savings in the city budget that could be set aside for the new animal shelter, the last step needed before the building’s construction goes out for bid this month.

The staff made the report, which looked at a “worst-case” scenario in paying for the project, to the City Council during its work session Tuesday afternoon.

The entire project, which included acquiring the land, was estimated to cost about $7 million, and the city had allocated about $4.4 million so far, Capt. Scott Fletcher told the council.

The Denton Animal Shelter Foundation has about $1.5 million in hand to help the city pay for the new building. But the foundation raised another $505,000 as in-kind donations, which the city cannot count until it is received, Fletcher said. Those donations include furniture, fixtures and other contributed items the shelter needs. State purchasing laws require that, when entering into contracts for goods and services, cities must have allocated the money to pay for those contracts.

In other words, the city needed to identify about $1.1 million that would cover the gap between the money the city has in hand and the estimated $5.3 million needed to pay for construction.

Construction at the city’s public safety training facility — a bid is currently in negotiations — is expected to cost about $578,000 less than expected. As a result, the staff recommended that pot of savings be set aside, if needed, to help pay for the animal shelter’s construction. In addition, the staff recommended that two major repair projects planned for next year — the heating and cooling system at City Hall and flooring in a number of other buildings — be delayed one year. That realized another $500,000 in savings that could be set aside, if needed, for the animal shelter construction.

Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune told the council that as long as they were comfortable with the budget moves, the construction documents could go out for bid this month.

Denton first acquired the land for the new shelter, located near North Lakes Park, for $980,264 in 2008. The Denton Animal Shelter Foundation began its fundraising campaign in 2009. After Jim McNatt, a local automobile dealer, gave the foundation $500,000 to name the new shelter for his wife, Linda McNatt, the foundation announced in July 2011 that it had reached its $2 million fundraising goal. The city hired an architect for the project in January 2012.

Some members of the foundation board became concerned with delays in the project, including one that sent the building plans back to the drawing board for LEED certification, and the city staff met with the board in February.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program certifies structures based on their energy efficiency and other sustainable building practices.

Since that February meeting, the project has moved swiftly. Council member Chris Watts reminded the council that they originally thought the construction would go out for bid in May, not April.

Fletcher told the council they still expected construction to begin in July and take about a year, but they would know more about the timeline after they received construction bids.

“That’s part of the process — getting the construction timelines from the contractors,” Fletcher said.

Mayor Pro Tem Pete Kamp, who also serves on the foundation board, said she wanted to challenge the staff to have the building open by April 2014.

“I want to still be on the council when I get to cut that ribbon,” she said.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter @phwolfeDRC.