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FARMINGTON — The city's Animal Services Advisory Commission's proposed changes to the Farmington Animal Shelter received unanimous praise from City Council Tuesday evening.

But the suggestions, which include hiring an assistant shelter manager, lead veterinary technician, establishing a volunteer program and expanding the spay and neuter clinic's operations, may come with too steep a price tag for the city's depleted coffers.

The commission's recommendations to Mayor Tommy Roberts and city council would cost the city about $440,000 in additional personnel costs for fiscal year 2014 and $702,500 in following years, according to Tuesday's presentation.

The city will also have to budget about $226,000 in additional operating costs for fiscal year 2014 and $314,000 in following years, said Bob Campbell, assistant city manager.

Coming up with those funds could be a significant challenge because the city's tax revenue has been falling. The latest statistics show that the city is operating at about 3 percent under its projected revenue.

"It's possible that we're going to be dealing with a reduced pie," Roberts said.

In spite of the looming budgeting challenges, Roberts thanked the commission for bringing their presentation to city council in time for consideration during the yearly budgeting process which will last until about May or June.

"I think (reviving the commission is) one of the best moves we've made," he said.


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With construction of Farmington's new regional animal shelter expected to begin in the next few months, the city may have to find alternative funding and staffing options.

Roberts and city council members suggested a number of alternative funding sources, policy changes and cost-saving measures including implementing an sponsorship program to help boost pet-adoption rates, passing a mandatory spay-and-neuter ordinance and utilizing more volunteers to assist with day-to-day operations at the shelter.

In spite of the challenges, the expectation of improvement at the shelter remains.

"I want to recognize our animal shelter employees," said Councilwoman Mary Fischer. "We are so lucky to have such dedicated people on board."

But for Fischer, the work is far from over.

The city needs to move from animal control to animal services, she said.

"For every 10 animals brought in, 7 are killed," Fischer said. "We have under-funded that shelter for years. We have under-staffed it. We have treated it like a stepchild."