Growing Marshall through animal shelter

To the Editor:

There is still a great deal of confusion and misinformation within our community regarding the proposed animal control facility. Here are the facts:

1. Marshall has one of the highest pet kill rates, in the state and in the country (historically around 3,000 pets per year — 80% +/-).

2. Plan P is nothing more than a rebuild of our current small, high kill facility that will not be amenable to significantly reducing the kill rate. Plan P is just a new high kill facility.

3. Plan U is already a scaled down, bare minimum version, equivalent to half of what shelter experts and consultants recommended, in order to effectively operate the necessary policies and programs to successfully reduce the kill rate.

4. It’s not a matter of “if the city can afford it.” The city has already created the means to fund and pay for a low kill animal shelter, and pay other needed capital improvement projects. The city set aside $400,000 in cash ($600,000 by the end of this year) in reserve Capital Outlay. Additionally, the commission created the Capital Outlay Account, built it into each annual budget, and funded it with $200,000 each year in order to fund certificates of obligation of more than $2,200,000.

The purpose of this Capital Outlay account was to provide a source to fully fund a low kill animal facility, and to fund other needed capital infrastructure projects, such as a roof on the annex building. As yet, this money has not been utilized for any intended capital improvements.

5. Capital Outlay accounts or Street Improvement accounts that were set aside for future recurring infrastructure needs should not be raided for salary pay hikes. We have the ability to source them, and they should be sourced, from other areas in the budget.

6. We have enough money in Excess Reserves, Capital Outlay Reserves, together with the budgeted $200,000 Annual Capital Outlay budget account, to pay cash for the animal shelter and fund close to $2,000,000 in other needed capital infrastructure projects.

The city is simply not destitute. I served on the City Commission, and as Mayor for twelve years. I am intimately familiar with what the city can afford to do.

People often ask me why Marshall doesn’t grow. One of the main reasons is a lack of progressive vision for our community. In addition to a statement about community values and morals, it is a quality of life standard by which our community will be measured. We fail miserably in this area when compared to neighboring communities, and communities around the country. Humane, low kill animal control operations is the new standard around the country.

It’s time for Marshall to step out of the Dark Ages and become a progressive community that people want to live in and be a part of. Otherwise, we will continue to be stagnant or worse. This should be a no-brainer and easy decision. We can and should do better.

Sincerely,

Ed Smith, Marshall