County braces for financial hit to fix faulty Animal Services building

Workers move into a temporary office trailer in the parking lot of the Mesa County Animal Services building on Orchard Mesa. The trailer will be the home for the staff at Animal Services for the next seven months. A four-season tent will house the cats and dogs.

Repairs costing nearly as much as the original price of the Mesa County Animal Services building will go forward this summer, but without the support of one county commissioner.

Commissioner Rose Pugliese dissented in a 2-1 vote this week in which she said none of the options for the county were acceptable.

“I won’t be at the press conference with you” in which the county would admit failure in repairing the building, Pugliese told commissioners John Justman and Scott McInnis.

“John, you and I are taking the risk on this,” McInnis said, noting that while he had reservations, “I don’t want a licensing problem” to complicate the project.

McInnis and Justman voted to move forward with a $2.4 million plan to rip out the failing floor of the 8,765-square-foot building and rebuild it, while leaving the walls standing and the roof intact.

The building cost $3 million to construct.

The process calls for digging a crawl space and installing a better drainage system for the 3,000 gallons of water used each day to clean the kennels, then installing a floor designed to handle shifting, expansive soils.

The animal-services building has been a thorn in the paw of the county even before it opened in 2010, and the proceeds of a lawsuit against the original contractor and several subcontractors — $1.2 million — fall well short of the repair costs.

The contract with Asset Engineering Limited could keep costs on a short leash, Dennis Berry, director of the Mesa County Criminal Justice Services Department, told the commission. The animal-services building is one of the county functions Berry oversees.

Under the terms of the contract, the cost of the project could drop as bids by subcontractors and supplier come in. If they’re lower than expected, the county will garner the benefit.

“At least we know it’s not going to be any higher” than the $2.4 million proposed by Asset, Berry said.

A similar process was used for the construction of the Mesa County Jail, Berry noted.

Animals will be kenneled in an air-conditioned tent structure on the grounds that will be used as a parking lot once the building is repaired.

Progress on repairs should hold at bay state regulators working under the federal Pet Animal Care Facilities Act, Berry said. Kennels and other pet-care facilities, public and private, are licensed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture under the act, which sets standards for such operations.

Mesa County’s difficulties are well-known and regulators have taken no actions against the county’s licenses on condition that the county is making progress toward improvement, Berry told the commission.

Construction is expected to be complete by the end of November.

The county has spent $539,000 so far on designs and repairs to the building, according to county records, which also forecast construction costs of as much as $126,000 and additional maintenance costs of as much as $450,000 if the project is put off until 2018.


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