City rejects bid for animal shelter upgrades

For years, the city has been planning upgrades to the Great Falls Animal Shelter.

Earlier this year, the city requested bids and received on that was about $245,186 over the project estimate and budgeting funding.

On Tuesday, the City Commission rejected the bid. Staff will instead rebid for the project at a later time.

Bids open for expansion project at the Great Falls Animal Shelter

The project includes a new cattery, expansion in the canine area, interior office and reception area remodeling, exterior façade renovation, site work and landscaping.

Bids were due June 13 and the bid received from Wadsworth Builders had a base bid of $705,000.

City staff started working with Nelson Architects in 2012 to develop a master plan for the shelter and in 2013, the commission approved a professional services agreement with Nelson Architects for architectural/engineering services.

The master plan identified current and desired space needs at the facility. The plan was developed in hopes of increasing animal capacity space to benefit the overall health of animals and reduce their stay time in the facility.

Shelter staff has been fundraising for the project and currently has $382,195 of available funding for the project, which has no city funding designated.

Lynn Formell, shelter director, said she’s also pursuing several grants to help cover the cost of the project since their budget is limited. The fiscal year 2017 operating budget was $602,349, according to shelter documents.

The shelter was built in the 1970s and doesn’t have much room to grow beyond the existing footprint, but last year the shelter was approved to by a new $85,000 hydroincinerator that is smaller and more efficient than the one previously in use at the shelter.

The shelter offers cremation services and the new incinerator lowered operating costs by $1.20 per pound and the shelter averages about 32,000 pounds per year, Formell said.

Since the new incinerator is also smaller, it has freed up more space to potentially expand the cattery plans even further.

“We’re trying to maximize our space,” Formell said.

The shelter can currently house about 60 cats and is already full so far this spring. The new cattery will also the shelter to house 76 cats, potentially more, depending on the updated designs. The shelter serves about 800 cats annually, according to the city website.

The cattery addition would allow cats to be transported in and out of the facility without going through the dog kennels. It would also provide separate visitation, isolation, triage and grooming areas for cats.

Want to learn more about the project or donate? Visit the Great Falls Animal Shelter online.