City Commission rescinds April 2 action putting cattery contract on May 7 agenda
City Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday night to rescind their April 2 decision postponing a decision on awarding a contract for the cattery addition at the Great Falls Animal Shelter.
That will put consideration of the $462,000 contract on the commission’s May 7 meeting.
During Tuesday’s special meeting, Commissioner Owen Robinson moved to rescind their earlier action to delay a decision to September, which would effectively kill the bids that were opened in March and have a 60 day clock.
Robinson had initially made the motion to delay the decision so that he and Commissioner Mary Moe could continue discussions with the Maclean Cameron Animal Adoption Center’s board to explore a possible partnership between the city and the foundation.
During the April 30 special meeting, Fred Burow, a former city commissioner, cautioned the commission on conversations with Maclean.
“I don’t know if I would get to excited about that…from past history, as you know Owen, you came to us and spent an hour telling us how much money we could save here a few years ago and that was all fine and good until we asked for some financial records to try to figure out where they was gonna save all this money…at that point, it seemed like there was a big hold up, we could get no more information from them,” Burow said.
Burow suggested that commissioners let staff work out the details and bring the information to the commission.
During the meeting, Robinson said that the more he thought about it, he realized it “would be wrong” and unfair to donors and the animal shelter to delay a decision on the cattery project.
He said it was unfortunate that his new initiative to have conversations with the foundation collided with the cattery project.
Robinson announced in February that he wanted to have conversation with the foundation about potential collaboration or combination in some fashion.
The city shelter has been working on plans for a cattery since 2012, when staff began work on a master plan. The city opened the cattery project for bids last year but rejected bids since they came in over budget. The city worked with the architect to break the project into phases to see what could be accomplished within the funds that had been raised. The bid from Detailed Construction would allow the shelter to complete the entire cattery project, according to shelter staff.
Commissioner Tracy Houck said the city should continue conversations with the animal foundation but also recognize that significant changes have been made at the city shelter in recent years.
Commissioner Mary Moe said the nice thing about the motion was to cue people “as to arguments that would be persuasive to me” since she tries to suspend judgment until she’s heard public comment.
Moe said that she agrees the collecting of money for the project is a strong argument, but believed those funds had been raised for a project that has since been scaled back.
According to staff the project has not been scaled back, but had been broken into phases to be able to make improvements as funding was available.
The cattery has long been planned as the first phase, according to shelter staff, the master plan and several years worth of public discussions about the project.
In 2013, the City Commission told city staff to move forward with the master plan and their first priority, which was the cattery.
During the April 30 meeting, Moe said she wanted more information for the May 7 meeting regarding whether by approving the bid, it would imply a continuing expansion along the lines of the master plan, which the commission approved in 2013.
She also asked if there would be additional staff needed for the additional cats. No additional staff are proposed as part of the project, or the shelter’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The shelter is always over capacity on cats most years.
Moe also asked for more information on whether the expanded building would increase operational costs. Shelter staff said the additional costs would be minimal and could potentially be offset by the cost savings from the new incinerator that would be installed as part of the cattery project.