Saginaw County voters to decide on millage to fund $11.4 million animal shelter

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (04/17/2018) - The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners approved placing four millage proposals on the August 2018 ballot.

The four funding requests that will rely on voter support include an early renewal and increase of the current millage for both the Historical Society and the Commission on Aging.

Saginaw County 911 is requesting the levy of a new millage.

The millage generating the most conversation, however, is a request by the Animal Care and Control Center for an early renewal and substantial increase to its current millage which director Lisa Stoffel said has been insufficient.

It will now be up to voters to decide this summer if they want to pay for a proposed $11.4 million animal care center and more support staff.

"I come in here and I get my kitty fix," said Dawn Ditts.

The Birch Run resident drives in three days a week to volunteer her time with the cats at the Animal Care and Control Center in Saginaw.

"I've always had a love for animals," she said. "I figured I'd come in and give some of the love out to the animals."

Dilts, who is on disability and suffers from chronic pain, said she also benefits from her time in the cat room.

"I can sit here and pet the animals, and it helps you forget for a little bit just what pain you're in or what they're in,” she said.

She plans to campaign for the millage renewal and increase. Their current location used to house a Rite Aid

"It needs an air circulation system," Dilts said. “It needs a home for the animal to get along better."

Dilts described the dog room as noisy and smelly, making it more difficult to adopt out from.

If approved, the 0.425 millage would be collected from 2018 to 2037. Residents who own a house with a taxable value of $50,000 would pay about $21.20 a year.

Right now they're only paying $7.50 a year.

"Seven fifty per household per year is not enough," said Lisa Stoffel, the director of the Saginaw County Animal Care and Control Center. “We rely on 50 percent donations. We have to increase our operating expenses just to be able to feed the animals in our care."

Stoffel said in addition to a new building, the millage would pay for a fourth animal control officer, six kennel aides and two office staffers.

"If we get a facility that has a clinic that offers low cost spay and neutering and offers medical care for animals we can significantly reduce the cost," she said. “If we have that paid off within six years, that levy goes down."

One of the three commissioners to vote against the proposal said $11 million is too much to spend on a building for animal control.

"It's a non mandated service for the county," said Kathy Dwan, a Saginaw County Commissioner representing District 1. "I'm glad to provide a service, but I just feel $11 million is a lot to ask the taxpayers for."

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