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BENTONVILLE -- The city intends to support the next phase of work for an animal shelter through a steering committee and potentially using money for engineering and design services.

Bill Burckart, council member and animal shelter task force member, proposed to council transitioning the task force into the Pet Resource & Services Center Steering Committee, which would operate through December 2019.

Council Action

Bentonville’s City Council met Tuesday and approved:

• Supporting Allegiance Arts & Entertainment’s application to the state for Equity Investments Tax Credits.

• Reappointing Chris Sooter to a fourth term and Ralph Weber to a second term on the Tree and Landscape Advisory Committee.

• A $20,000 agreement with Crafton Tull and Associates for construction observation services for the Engineering Department.

• A $12,282 agreement with the Arkansas Department of Transportation for street lighting along Southeast Eighth Street.

Source: Staff Report

The initial task force spent the last six months gathering data and community feedback. Its findings showed the city needed a shelter and that residents wanted one.

"This is more of an execution and how we'll move forward from here," Burckart said during a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.

The committee will be tasked with moving forward with a conceptual facility design, estimated facility cost, final site selection, nonprofit operating agreement outline, policies and procedures draft, initial funding partnerships, detailed timelines, financial pro forma for construction and operations and recommendations of updated ordinances related to animal welfare and control, according to the proposal.

The council unanimously approved the proposal without comment at Tuesday's less-than-nine-minute meeting.

The move also authorizes the committee to request the amount needed for the engineering and design services for the facility at the Jan. 22 council meeting. The council has discussed needing $350,000 for those services.

Octavio Sanchez, council member, said Monday he was concerned with city money being used. He said there's still missing information, such as what other sources of money will help build and operate the shelter.

It cannot all be city money, he said, clarifying he had no issue with continuing work through the committee.

An engineer's design would provide a more accurate estimate of what the building would cost, which would help the committee know how much money needs to be raised, Burckart said. Shelter operation would be done in partnership with a nonprofit organization.

Mayor Bob McCaslin said he felt uncomfortable for council to commit the new mayor to a $350,000 budget adjustment in January.

Stephanie Orman and Jim Webb are contending in a runoff election Dec. 4 for the mayor's seat.

The council and city staff clarified the move signified an intent and wasn't made law. Approving the proposal doesn't mean money is required to be approved in January. It only meant the money would be up for vote in January, they said.

Animal advocates have been asking the city to consider having its own shelter for at least the last five years. Bentonville contracts with Centerton to take lost and stray dogs to its animal shelter. The three-year contract has a base fee of $300,000 plus $100 for each dog taken to the shelter.

The council created the task force in May when the city switched its contract from Rogers to Centerton.

The c also approved the 2019 budget Tuesday. The budget estimates $161 million in revenue and $159.4 million in expenditures for a $1.7 million difference.

It includes money for fire station No. 7, Public Works maintenance facility construction as well as 27 more full-time positions. Eight of them are for the Fire Department.

All the city's more than 500 employees will receive a 3 percent cost of living raise.

NW News on 11/28/2018

Print Headline: Task forces turns steering committe, continues shelter work

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