Commission to again discuss Maclean proposal for animal shelter operations
Discussions regarding a potential partnership between the city and the Maclean Cameron Animal Adoption Center is back on the City Commission agenda for their Dec. 15 work session.
The Maclean’s proposal to assume some animal services from the city’s animal shelter was last discussed at a July work session.
Their proposal has changed since originally being submitted in February. Initially, Maclean proposed to take over only shelter adoption services, but is now proposing to take over all shelter operations.
Since then, there have been multiple public meetings and discussions between city and Maclean officials.
In a Dec. 10 memo to commissioners, Deputy City Manager Chuck Anderson wrote, “the bottom line business case after reviewing all provided memorandums and presentations can be covered in three bullets; a) the [animal foundation] hasn’t shown it can provide substantial savings to the City b) the [animal foundation] does not understand and is not trained to provide the [Great Falls Animal Shelter] services they state to assume. The [animal foundation] understands adoptions and fundraising. c) if the City doesn’t pay the [animal foundation] $475,000 per year, and the [animal foundation] doesn’t fundraise $384,000 per year, there will be a loss in animal service and quality of care to the community.”
In early 2019, Commissioner Owen Robinson said he wanted to explore partnership with the Maclean and believed there could be cost savings for the city.
During multiple public meetings, city staff have expressed concern with the idea of a partnership and with the Maclean’s proposals presented this year.
During the June 2 commission work session, Maclean Board President Libbey Winderl walked commissioners through Maclean’s issued with city staff’s assessment of the Maclean proposal to assume some animal services from the city.
She said some public comments about the discussions about Maclean had been unfair and uniformed.
In various documents and meetings, representatives from Maclean have said their proposal would save the city about $300,000 and would cost the city $475,000 for the first four years, increasing to $482,600 in year five.
In an Aug. 3 memo, Melissa Kinzler, city finance director, wrote, “a major concern I have with this proposal is the long term feasibility of supporting the total animal shelter operations for $475,000 a year. The city was not provided with the financial information needed to determine if this is a feasible proposal. What will be the total expenses and revenues of the animal shelter if the MCAAC takes over operations? Ideally, the city would need a detailed operation budget for the next five years, which include all expenses with personal costs and total revenues. What happens if the MCAAC can’t run the animal shelter with $475,000 a year like they believe? The proposal is incomplete to determine if this is a feasible proposal for MCAAC to take over operations of the animal shelter for the City of Great Falls.”
City officials asked more questions on the financials and Maclean representatives provided responses through written correspondence but city staff’s concern over how those figures are calculated appears to remain, according to their December memo.
In an August response to the city, Maclean representatives wrote, “to summarize, a partnership offers the opportunity to consolidate fundraising, benefit from economies of scale and for the city and animal foundation to strategically plan, rather than operate on a year-to-year basis. We have addressed your concerns and believe we have demonstrated to the commission and community that we are financially stable enough to provide the services at the level proposed. We are hopeful that the commission and staff will adopt this strategic vision for the future of enhanced animal welfare in the Great Falls community.”
Initially in their proposal, Maclean states that if the city shelter were to close, they could provide animal adoption services under a $475,000 service contract. The Maclean proposal states it would not accept any animals other than cats and dogs nor take responsibility for the intake of strays or animal control, or cremation services.
In their written questions, city staff stated that on occasion, the city shelter had people surrender animals that they had previously tried to turn in to Maclean, but were rejected.
In their response, Maclean representatives wrote that it was correct, and that, “initial board direction was to provide only animal welfare services that the center could perform within the constraints of our initial medical, personnel, and financial resources. This is evidenced by the fact that the center has only euthanized 26 animals in five years of operation. Going forward, however, the foundation believes it can accept animals on the same basis that the city shelter does.”
In their February proposal, Maclean said it would accept all surrenders and all unclaimed strays after the 72/96 hour holding period.
“In our modified proposal to assume all animal shelter services, we would also accept strays from both the public and animal control,” according to Maclean’s responses to the city.