PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles is again supporting a new San Luis Obispo County animal shelter after previously backing away from the project due to concerns about operational costs and control.
The Paso Robles City Council approved an “Animal Services Memorandum of Agreement” between the county and the cities, which reduces the one-time project costs to be charged to the cities by $1 million, commits to reductions in animal intakes and animal nights at the shelter to target a reduction of costs averaging 5 percent per year for the first five years of operation, and sharing governance of the shelter with cities.
The plan is to build a $14.5 million shelter near the existing facility northwest of San Luis Obispo off Highway 1.
In October of 2017 the project hit a major snag when Paso Robles and Atascadero councils withdrew from the agreement. The current shelter was built around 1975.
Atascadero is expected to take up the same amendment at a meeting on July 10.
The two North County cities looked into building their own shelter and found there were some advantages, including substantially lower operating costs, and a projected reduction in the increases of those costs over time.
With the North County cities out, it would have put a greater burden on the remaining five cities and the county.
However, the county was not ready to move on without the Paso Robles and Atascadero on board.
The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors requested time to engage in discussions before the two cities proceeded with a North County animal shelter.
What resulted was a series of discussions, involving District 1 Supervisor Don Peschong and District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin and Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley, and Paso Robles Mayor Pro Tem Steven Gregory and Atascadero Mayor Pro Tem Roberta Fonzi over the past several months. The result was the amended MOU.
“The City of Paso Robles is pleased the County of San Luis Obispo has agreed to reduce the fiscal impact to the cities and implement an alternative governance system for the operations for the facility,” Martin said. “The plan also sets the stage for better City/County cooperation on regional projects in the future.”