We are not surprised that Sierra Vista council members Sarah Pacheco and Greg Johnson are on opposite sides of a spending issue.

Pacheco is known for her broad-minded opinions, usually favoring ideas that are in-step with the tilt of national media coverage. She has raised awareness of policing issues, questioned the stone monument to Confederate soldiers in the local veterans’ cemetery, and called for fellow council members to condemn the Jan. 6 riot at the nation’s capital.

By contrast, newly-elected council member Johnson distinguished his campaign with a commitment to fiscal conservatism. He’s not going to waste your tax dollars.

That’s why it’s a bit surprising that these two council members are at odds over a $200,000 expenditure to expand the Nancy J. Brua animal shelter.

Johnson favors the project, Pacheco is opposed.

We’ve stated before that budget expenditures are much like Shakespeare plays. The renown Renaissance-era poet, playwright and actor often reminded his audience that it’s not what a character says, it’s what they do, that defines their intention.

It’s the same with public expenditure. Priorities of the governing body can often be determined by examining where the money gets spent. In this case the council is considering capital projects that include adding another two miles to an existing multi-use path, extending Avenida Escuela behind Walmart, replacing a fleet of police cars and expanding the animal shelter.

Pacheco is firmly against the expansion, telling fellow members she is “completely opposed” to the idea. She cited a campaign underway in Huachuca City to petition Cochise County to build a facility that would serve the entire county and said that Sierra Vista shouldn’t compete to see which community could be the first to finish the respective projects.

Johnson pointed to the needs assessment presented to the council, showing the number of dogs and cats housed at the facility during 2019.

The shelter has room for 65 dogs and 72 cats.

For 2019, the average number of dogs per month was 62.58 and the average for cats was 62.42. The shelter had two months when it exceeded its capacity for dogs, reaching a peak of 85, and it had four months when there were too many cats, peaking at 93.

Sierra Vista is fortunate to own a state-of-the-art shelter almost entirely paid for by generous donations from the community. In addition to the $1 million bequest from the Nancy J. Brua estate, other private donations have continued to support the 12,500-square-foot facility and its operations. Most recently, a fundraising campaign by the Friends of the Sierra Vista Animal Shelter and Horse’n Around Rescue Ranch raised most of the $286,000 needed to renovate an area within the facility for a surgical center.

Compare the city’s fortunate situation to past troubles reported in Bisbee, Willcox and other area communities and it becomes evident that Sierra Vista and its residents prioritize the welfare of pets for both humane and public safety reasons.

We stand with Councilman Johnson on this issue. The city should make the investment to expand the animal shelter.