Phenix Council approves animal shelter agreement

A new city-county animal control shelter is a step closer to reality in Russell County.

Phenix City Council voted unanimously to approve an agreement with Russell County to operate a joint animal control center on property near the sheriff's office on Prentiss Drive.

County Attorney Ken Funderburk, City Attorney Jimmy Graham, County Administrator LeAnn Horne and City Manager Bubba Roberts negotiated the agreement in the last three weeks.

The county commission and the council had voted separately to seek an agreement.

Funderburk presented a final, updated agreement to the council during Monday night's work session.

"I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly this was done," said Mayor Jeff Hardin. "I figured this would be a six-month process and this was real quick. I'm pleased with what they've done."

The new animal shelter would be governed by a separate animal control authority, with the two governmental bodies providing the budget for operation.

The county and city would continue to be in charge of enforcement.

Funderburk said the county would put the issue to vote. The commission will likely vote on the matter on next Tuesday's meeting at the courthouse.

The animal control issue has been a hot-button item since the city decided to cancel its contract with Russell County about two years ago, citing the lack of space at the city-owned facility on 12th Street.

The county began work on developing its own animal control facility, with an early cost estimate of about $285,000. But after its architect, Harris Associates, came back with a design costing upwards to $500,000, the county had to shift gears. The commission voted 4-3 last month to seek a joint agreement with the city to build a facility.