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Steep bids slow plans for animal shelter

Some would like to work with the lowest bidder and trim items from the project; others would like to make the trims and then put the project up for bid again.

By DAN DeWITT

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 30, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- The long process of building the county's new animal shelter will be delayed again, county staffers learned, when the bids for the project came in between $400,000 and $850,000 higher than the estimated price of $1.165-million.

How long the delay will be, and the project's ultimate cost, depends on the county's next step.

Staffers, including County Administrator Paul McIntosh, would like to work with the lowest bidder, Cutler Associates of Tampa, to cut a few items from the project.

The cuts would save the county only about $200,000, McIntosh wrote in a memo to county commissioners. With this approach, the county would have to accept that the animal compound would cost more than expected, but the delays would be only minor; last week, Cutler told the county it could start work in December, said Code Enforcement Director Frank McDowell.

Commission Chairman Paul Sullivan, however, has suggested a new round of bidding. Although he has not studied the plan in detail, he said, the county might have to consider more extensive cuts than the ones staffers are now discussing.

"My recommendation is that they review the plan and put it back to bid," Sullivan said.

Everyone agrees that the county needs a new shelter. Animal Control is currently housed in a cramped and dilapidated compound just south of the Hernando County Fairgrounds.

"It's terrible," Sullivan said. "It's bad for the animals, and it's bad for the people who work there."

Discussions about replacing the facility began nearly a decade ago, and the county set aside about $500,000 to build a new compound in the early 1990s, McDowell said.

He and McIntosh said the design for the facility, which would also be built near the fairgrounds, has already been trimmed of most of its fat.

It calls for a 2,500-square-foot administrative building, a 7,500-square-foot kennel, a garage and a pole barn.

"It's not overdesigned at all," McIntosh said.

Former County Administrator Bonnie Dyga made several cuts in the project, including reducing the capacity of the garage from two trucks to one, when she reviewed the plans about 18 months ago, McDowell said.

In a meeting with Cutler after the bids came in high, McDowell said, they agreed to do away with a sculpted county seal planned for outside the building and a cathedral ceiling planned for the entrance to the offices.

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