Animal shelter is in good hands

But city needs to look for cost efficiencies

As the CN&R reported in its Nov. 17 issue (“Police chief grilled on [animal shelter] takeover plan,” Newslines), the Chico Police Department is set to assume management in February of the animal shelter currently run by the Butte Humane Society.

The City Council approved the plan at its Nov. 15 meeting, with two councilmen, Mark Sorensen and Bob Evans, dissenting. Neither explained why he was voting nay, but earlier both had expressed concern that the cost figures had increased substantially since the arrangement was approved in concept back in June.

That’s true, and in retrospect Police Chief Mike Maloney might have been naïve to think that his department could manage the facility as frugally as the nonprofit Butte Humane Society has done. Even lower-level government employees, like most of the 11 to be hired at the shelter, are more costly than nonprofit employees.

But, as Maloney stated, the change needed to be made regardless. In the city’s opinion, having BHS run the shelter was no longer the best option. And the city is legally responsible for animal-control services in Chico.

Subsequently council members who approved the contract have taken flak from other quarters because they didn’t put it out to bid. But that possibility came up during discussion, and Maloney pointed out that the only entity in the area that could possibly manage the shelter was BHS, and “we’ve already decided to go in another direction.”

Besides, been there, done that. As City Manager Dave Burkland pointed out, a few years ago, when the city sent out a request for proposal on the shelter, “the bids were unresponsive”—that is, inadequate.

The important thing now is to look for efficiencies in the shelter’s operation that will keep costs down. Burkland and Maloney both said that’s a high priority. The public—and the council—should hold them to it.