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Panel to address shelter funding shortfall

Evanston faces a choice about what to do after a grant came through at less than half the requested amount.

The Evanston Animal Shelter, 2310 Oakton St. (Google Maps)

Evanston’s Human Services Committee is scheduled tonight to try to sort out what to do after an anticipated $4.5 million county grant to build a new animal shelter turned out to be for only $2 million instead.

City staff had planned to match the anticipated $4.5 million from Cook County with $1 million of city funds and $500,000 to be raised by the Evanston Animal Shelter Association to fund construction of a $6 million replacement for the existing shelter building, which officials have long considered inadequate for the city’s needs.

In a memo to aldermen, City Engineer Lara Biggs says the city could cut the scope of the project by just renovating, instead of replacing, the existing 2,800-square-foot building and constructing a 3,600-square-foot addition for a total of $4.5 million.

But that would not increase the capacity for housing animals, Biggs say. It would just bring the building into code compliance and make some operational upgrades to save future costs.

Or, Biggs says, the city could go ahead with the full new construction project.

The memo from Biggs suggests that under either scenario the association would increase its fundraising for the project from $500,000 to $1 million, with the city to advance the money and the association to reimburse the city as donations came in.

Assuming that model was followed, the city would have to increase its funding for the project from $1 million to $1.5 million under the renovation option and to $3 million for the complete new building.

The plans also call for extending the term of the city’s contract with the association and renegotiating the city’s agreement with the county, which calls for the city to accept strays picked up by county workers in the northern half of the county.

Biggs says the shelter now handles more than 500 pets a year and that the county — which impounds animals found in forest preserves and unincorporated areas of the county — would likely provide about 150 more.

The county would be expected to pay a $150 impound fee to the city for each animal its workers brought to the shelter, and the city would turn over the fee to the shelter association to help cover its costs.

Related stories

Shelter grant falls short of plans (5/29/20)

City to apply for grant to fund new animal shelter (2/4/20)

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