Placer supes move on new $23.6 million North Auburn animal shelter

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A new Placer County Animal Shelter in North Auburn priced at an estimated $23.6 million moved a step closer Tuesday.

The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to ask for three firms to submit plans and bids to construct what is envisioned to be a 35,000-square-foot building on property the county now owns in North Auburn. A project could be awarded as early as September.

Joel Swift, county Facility Services Department deputy director, told supervisors that staff has been working with design-build architects Indigo Hammond & Playle to develop documents for a request for proposals that includes an estimate of the probable cost.

“We came up with what we consider the most cost-effective facility for the community,” Swift said. “It’s not gold plated.”

The cost of the facility – both during construction and after operations start – elicited questions from Supervisor Jack Duran of Roseville and Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, whose District 5 includes much of North Auburn.

Montgomery asked about estimated costs to run the facility once it is constructed.

“We don’t want a future board dealing with how to fund something already approved,” Montgomery said.

Animal Control Services Manager Mike Winters said that the county is looking at everything from volunteer help to inmate work programs to help with operational costs. One possibility is a joint powers authority with a non-profit to run the adoption center at the new facility, he said.

The actual budget for running the facility has yet to be established, he said.

Duran questioned the cost, based on his calculation of more than $650 a square foot to build the facility.

“That’s pretty expensive for a public building,” Duran said.

The actual design-build construction cost is an estimated $18 million, which would bring the cost per square foot down to $514, Duran said. The other $5 million will pay for work already completed on a needs assessment, architectural work and design criteria. It would also cover a separate contract for project management during construction.

Swift said that the construction cost is calculated at $375 a square foot, based on a $13 million building bill.

“Hopefully we can beat that cost,” Swift said.

“I’m hopeful that the price comes down,” Duran added.

The building, which will replace a facility established in the early 1970s, includes room for 68 dogs, 92 cats, plus exotic and large animals. The current facility holds about 50 dogs and 80 cats.

Rob Unholz, county capital improvements manager, said the new shelter is intended to minimize the length of stay for animals, while ensuring adoptions of healthy, less-stressed pets.

Total funding now available through the Auburn animal shelter project account is $8.46 million. The balance of the project funding is under consideration by the Infrastructure Investment Committee, Swift said.