Russell County OKs joint animal shelter with Phenix City

The Russell County Commission gave its approval this morning to an agreement with Phenix City to build a new animal control shelter on Prentiss Drive.

The vote was 4-3, with Commissioners Gentry Lee, Gordon Cox, Peggy Martin and Johnnie Robinson voting for the agreement and Commissioners Cattie Epps, Mervin Dudley and J.D. Upshaw against it.

The split was the same as in May, when the commission voted to make an overture to the city to share the cost of a new facility. The city and county have shared a Phenix City-owned animal shelter on 12th Street for several years, but the county's contract was cancelled in late 2005 because of space.

The county began to explore establishing its own shelter with two key issues dominating their decision — location and cost. It voted to pursue the construction of a shelter on land it owned near the Russell County Highway Department on Poorhouse Road in Seale, with an initial cost estimate of about $280,000.

But the costs escalated, with the project architects Harris Associates presenting the commission with a design priced at near $500,000. The county commission worked to trim costs of the project, but never reached a price it could afford.

The commission voted in May to approach the city about sharing the costs of the new facility. After quick negotiation of an agreement by County Administrator LeAnn Horne, City Manager Bubba Roberts, City Attorney Jimmy Graham and County Attorney Kenneth Funderburk, the city gave its unanimous approval of the agreement, with the county following suit today.

The two governments will share the costs of construction and operation, but the animal shelter will be controlled by a joint authority appointed by both governments. The city and the county will each continue to have their own animal control enforcement officers.