By Bonnie Culverhouse
Members of the Minden City Council reversed their decision of one week ago by voting unanimously in favor of two issues that will affect the local animal shelter at a special meeting Monday.
The city currently has a state grant for $75,000 which must be spent for the animal shelter by June 30. The rest of the money will be made up in donations.
First, the council was asked to amend the 2021/2022 budget in a way that will keep the budget balanced.
“This is to increase the revenue as well as the expenses for the animal shelter,” interim City Clerk Michael Fluhr explained. “Why are we doing that? The law requires you cannot advertise without having the funds appropriated. So, I propose an amendment to increase the revenue by the $75,000, which is the state grant, as well as $275,000 on donations from local businesses and animal lovers. This increases the revenue but also the expenses because we have to balance the budget.”
Fluhr said he feels comfortable the $275,000 will be raised, but District C councilman Vincen Bradford is not so sure.
“You think you’re going to get those donations,” Bradford said. “I’m not comfortable with that. We don’t know about donations.”
Bradford pointed out that Mayor Terry Gardner said in a previous meeting that he could get donations to finish the shelter project.
“Is he still going to get donations if he’s not re-elected?” Bradford asked.
Gardner said he will. “I can probably get it before the election,” he said.
District A councilman Wayne Edwards asked what will happen if the donations are not raised.
“Is the project dead?” Edwards asked.
“That’s correct,” said the mayor. “We have to spend the $75,000 before June 30 on engineering, dirt work, road work, that kind of thing. If we don’t raise one penny, it just doesn’t happen. The project is dead.”
District B councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker said the animal shelter issue is nothing new.
“Even when Mr. (Herbert) Taylor was on the council – the animal shelter has been a concern since we started this administration,” Williams-Walker said.
“We are going to correct that,” Gardner said. “I think you’re an animal lover, too.”
“You’re absolutely right,” she replied.
There were other animal lovers at the meeting, including Ashley McVey, a professor at LSUS, who often fosters dogs from Minden’s animal shelter.
“I have connections that can help them raise donations,” McVey said. “All the rescue people I know locally – Shreveport, Bossier, Minden, DeSoto – all have ties to this huge, incredible national network that helps fund projects like this one.”
With all councilpersons in attendance, the vote to amend the budget, as well as granting the authority to advertise for bids for the shelter, were approved unanimously.
Initial drawings show a minimum of 10 canine kennels, a cat room, dog run, storage and an office.
Building Official Brent Cooley said he would also like an enclosed area to remove dogs from the animal control vehicle in a controlled atmosphere.
“You would be able to pull down the door, and when the vehicle is not in there, that room becomes a place where potential adopters can meet the pets,” Cooley said.
Cooley said an architect will begin work on a plan in a few days.
“This is just a plan I’ve been working on,” Cooley said of the preliminary. “It may not look anything like the preliminary plans when the architect finishes.”
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