Routt County agrees in principle with Humane Society on new cost share for animal shelter | SteamboatToday.com

Routt County agrees in principle with Humane Society on new cost share for animal shelter

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners agreed in principle Monday to the framework of a new cost-sharing arrangement with the city of Steamboat Springs and the Routt County Humane Society on the operational costs of the city's animal shelter after the Humane Society assumes management of the facility in May.

"We would like to rework the agreement to do something that makes more sense," Humane Society Vice President Wes Boyd told the commissioners.

The new arrangement would make the county's contribution proportional to the percentage of animals that come into the shelter from the rural areas outside the three largest cities in Routt County.

No vote was taken Monday and there are significant details remaining to be ironed out, but the commissioners reacted favorably to the plan, which initially would result in a modest reduction in the county's contribution. The county contributed $32,000 to the operation of the shelter last year.

Humane Society Co-President Maggie Smith told the commissioners that the city has agreed to initially contribute $80,000 annually to the operations of the shelter, representing an amount a little lower than what the city had been budgeting annually for that purpose. She asked the commissioners if they would be willing to contribute an amount representing a fraction of $80,000, which would be based on the number of animals coming into the shelter from the county.

Humane Society Co-President Molly Waters said that on average during the past four years, the county, excluding the towns of Hayden and Oak Creek, generated 38 percent of the animals or about 190 that were brought to the shelter. Waters said applying 38 percent to the city's contribution of $80,000 would generate another $30,400 from the county over and above the city contribution.

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County Manager Tom Sullivan proposed the annual payments be adjusted based on a rolling four-year average of the percentage of shelter animals coming from the county.

The calculation takes into account animals coming from the town of Yampa because the county has an arrangement to extend law enforcement to Yampa, which includes animal control functions. However, it does not include Oak Creek and Hayden, which were the source of 6 and 7 percent, respectively, of the animals coming into the shelter in Steamboat.

Waters said her not-for-profit would ask town councils in Oak Creek and Hayden for annual contributions (Hayden's 7 percent share would equate to about $5,600) but even if they are turned down, they would continue to take in and find new homes for those animals, she said.

The Routt County Humane Society has been funding veterinary care for animals at the shelter for years as well as providing volunteer labor. The members of its board of directors think their oversight of the facility will give them access to new grant funding.

Sullivan asked the representatives of the Humane Society to refer formal documents governing their new relationship with the city of Steamboat to the county attorney for review as soon as they are available.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1