Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

JPs OK spending $405,811 to buy animal shelter site


The Faulkner County Quorum Court voted 12-1 Tuesday to spend more than $400,000 to purchase property for the future home of its first animal shelter.

District 9 Justice of the Peace Kris Kendrick voted against the measure.

“We negotiated the price on taking possession on Feb. 1, which would get us into another budget year,” Faulkner County’s County Judge Jim Baker said.

The property, off U.S. 65, consists of 4 acres with a building on-site.

The ordinance that passed Tuesday appropriat­es $405,811 from the county’s Animal Welfare Control Fund and transfers it to the Animal Welfare Control account for buildings.

The animal shelter — or lack of one — has long been an issue in Faulkner County. The account funded by a 14-yearold voluntary, 1.5-mill shelter tax is now about $1.7 million.

Property for the future shelter was purchased in the past, only to be leased to the Faulkner County sheriff’s office. The $500,000 purchase cost was refunded to the animal shelter tax fund.

Ideas about the funding of the shelter and its operation expenses have been tossed back and forth through the years, with no progress made.

Susan Chaddox, an advocate and volunteer for the animal shelter initiative, spoke to the Quorum Court on Tuesday, telling members of a visit to Bentonvill­e to compare notes and get advice for the proposed shelter.

Bentonvill­e’s shelter is in the planning phase and is not yet opened.

The first decision to make was under which entity the animal shelter should fall, whether it’s the sheriff’s office or formed as a nonprofit with an appointed board, Chaddox said.

Hiring an animal shelter director immediatel­y to create a plan and oversee the project through to opening was suggested, Chaddox said.

District 5 Justice of the Peace Rose Roland said she has never been against an animal shelter, but she prefers to first see a business plan that includes funding for its operation.

In 2018, the Quorum Court members in place at the time voted against levying a proposed 0.25-mill property tax to finance operating expenses.

Baker said Tuesday’s ordinance was only for buying the facility.

“If we can’t agree on how it’s run, we’ll sell it outright,” he said.

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