About three weeks after Great Plains SPCA announced it would cease operating the Jackson County Regional Animal Shelter in eastern Independence in mid-July, the city knows that answers about the shelter's future won't come easily and quickly.
City Council Member Curt Dougherty suggested Monday that the city put out a “request for proposal” to solicit a possible new operator, but Mayor Eileen Weir said the city would need to work with county officials on whether that's even possible, as the county owns the shelter building on Missouri 78 and selects the operator. City and county officials have been able to meet once on the issue since Great Plains' unexpected announcement last month.
Basically, Weir said, the city needs to show due diligence and not overstep its bounds. The resolution ultimately approved by the council directs the city manager to bring back possible scenarios and options for the shelter, including a possible RFP.
“We've already had to triage with this before,” Weir said, referring to a few years ago when the city agreed to house an overflow of cats temporarily at the old fire station building on 23rd Street.
“Just see what we get; it shows we're serious in getting something going,” Dougherty said of a possible RFP. “We want this to be a smooth transition.”
In part, Dougherty said, he was worried about Great Plains, which cited financial issues as its biggest challenge with the shelter, might somehow leave earlier.
“I don't want to get caught flat-footed,” Dougherty said.
According to the county's agreement with Great Plains – a new five-year agreement that started in 2018 – either party must provide six months notice to terminate the agreement.
Great Plains began operating the new “no-kill” shelter in 2013. Before that, the city operated its own animal shelter. It now pays the shelter operator through the county. In 2018, that number was $546,522. This year it's scheduled to be $557,452, with increases of more than $11,000 each of the next three years.
Jackson County continues to make bond payments on the shelter building, a spokesperson has confirmed.
Earlier in Monday's meeting, Barbara Beets, speaking on behalf of many volunteers shelter, implored the city to consider how it will retain the shelter's “no-kill” status particularly with a dog breed ban in place, and who will determine animals' adoptable status in the future.
Beets said the volunteers are “painfully aware” that an operator likely can't make any money simply running a no-kill shelter.
“We have progressed forward, to where there are programs for the animals and it's not just housing and euthanizing,” Beets said, listing such initiatives as activity time for dogs and spay-and-neuter for cats. “It benefits both the community and animals. We cannot move backwards, ever.”
RONSON MANUFACTURING: The council unanimously approved the necessary rezoning to allow Ronson Manufacturing to move and consolidate its operations into the old Kmart building on U.S. 24. Ronson, which has a manufacturing facility near Little Blue Parkway and leases storage space in the caves, employs about 90 people.
STATE OF THE CITY: Mayor Eileen Weir will deliver the annual state of the city address at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City House, 14300 E. U.S. 40, the former flea market building that is now the home of Church of the Four Corners. A reception before the speech will begin at 5:15 p.m.