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Shelter panel delays recommendation

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The animal shelter task force chose Tuesday to delay a vote to either recommend a partnership with the Humane Society or construct a new facility.

The Paducah-McCracken County animal shelter task force met Tuesday afternoon and heard a proposal about a possible partnership with the McCracken County Humane Society.

Dr. Rob Robertson, a panel member, presented a detailed look at an operation in Lexington that would be scaled down to fit local need. He presented the same proposal to the Humane Society board last Thursday.

He recommended that the document - which included a budget, policies and procedures - be adopted. The Lexington facility includes a joint control and shelter operation in separate facilities with a medical suite joining the two buildings.

He said the leadership structure includes a president who is in charge of both animal control and the shelter under one umbrella. Robertson cited strong support from the community with a $1.8 million annual budget for the Lexington operation.

He didn't present specifics for the new local shelter, citing necessary involvement from county officials to tailor the specifications and budget constraints.

Chairman Tim Walker said the Humane Society had committed to spend about $1 million on a new shelter. Robertson said that number is based on square footage construction estimates but isn't set in stone and could vary depending on need.

The potential long-term joint venture with the county Humane Society would include animal shelter and control operations. The 11,000-square-foot complex would house about 170 animals.

The previous agreement with the humane society was terminated in 2011. The emergency shelter then moved to its current location six months later. The county has spent about $320,000 annually on control and shelter operations the past two years.

The other option debated by the group is building a new shelter. The new complex was projected to be about 11,000 square feet and cost between $1.6 million and $1.9 million but could be built for less, Walker said. The low-kill nonprofit shelter would be run by an independent board.

The task force previously decided that remaining in the current facility and bringing the complex up to code is not feasible.

Members asked for a day to review the Lexington document. The task force will reconvene at 5:30 p.m. today at the road department building.

Walker said he expects the group to vote but it will depend on the discussion.

The county and city governments gave the group a May 1 deadline, and Judge-Executive Van Newberry said he hopes to have a plan in place by this winter. The task force recommendation will be presented to the McCracken Fiscal Court for a final decision.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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