BISBEE — After discussing the matter in executive session closed to the public, the Bisbee mayor and City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to approve funding of $4,999 for the Friends of the Bisbee Animal Shelter to run the shelter for 30 more days unless a response from a new request for proposal is accepted.
Council members Louis Pawlik, Joni Giacomino, Bill Higgins, Leslie Johns, Joan Hansen and Anna Cline voted in favor of the funding agreement with Mayor David Smith as the sole nay vote.
According to the agenda, Higgins and Johns wanted to discuss a 90–day extension with the nonprofit to allow continued operation of the shelter and to provide time for a more comprehensive review of the potential alternatives. When the one-month funding move was approved, the item was moot.
City Manager Theresa Coleman will produce the new RFP, but what it will include was not a matter of discussion.
The former RFP included only animals picked up by an animal control officer, law enforcement or fire personnel and only required a time of 72 to 120 hours for care of animals brought to the shelter as required by the City Code and City Charter. It also requested a cost per animal estimate.
Though FBAS did submit an RFP, it was deemed insufficient by Coleman as it did not include a cost per animal.
The mayor and some on the council did not want to pay $80,000 a year to care for animals not specified in the code and charter. FBAS takes in all animals brought to the shelter by residents, which number in the hundreds each year. Few were brought in by city employees.
The financial situation of the city has been impacted by the COVID–19 pandemic, and cost-cutting measures, including layoffs, may have to be considered. The shelter’s high price tag made it a candidate for cutting. An annual contract with FBAS was changed to a monthly provision of $6,999. Coleman recently sent a letter to FBAS ending the monthly contract and funding.
FBAS has many supporters concerned with the future of animal care who have written emails to the council. A protest to Save Our Shelter last Sunday brought out about 200 people who objected to the city’s actions.
A petition with 345 signatures affirming support for the continuation of FBAS operations at the shelter was submitted to the council along with 22 emails prior to Tuesday’s meeting. Smith determined the emails were repetitive and therefore all had no need to be read in accordance with the charter. Instead, they were attached to the meeting documents.
The agenda item on an intergovernmental agreement with the Nancy J. Brua Animal Care Center in Sierra Vista that would secure care for animals brought in by an animal control officer or law enforcement at the rate of $115 per animals was tabled in a four-to-three vote.
Giacomino, Johns, Higgins and Cline voted for tabling the item with Smith, Pawlik and Hansen voting against it.
Under the agreement, Bisbee would not be charged unless an animal was taken to the Sierra Vista center. The agreement did state if the shelter was full, it would refuse taking an animal in for care.
Just what would happen to the existing Bisbee shelter facility was not discussed, though in an email Coleman asked FBAS if it would be interested in leasing it. FBAS requested details on the lease agreement.
FBAS president Kelly Galligan told the Herald/Review the city was auditing the financial records covering the past three years of the nonprofit’s operation of the shelter.
In a previous meeting, Pawlik suggested holding a referendum on the shelter to allow Bisbee voters to decide how they want their tax dollars to be spent on the shelter. It would be on the 2022 ballot if the new mayor and council choose to proceed with the measure.
Mayor–elect Ken Budge and Councilman–elect Frank Davis will be sworn in at the next meeting Tuesday, Dec. 1.