A little more than a month after voting to pull out of a countywide cost sharing agreement in favor of plans to construct an animal shelter of their own, the cities of Atascadero and Paso Robles are now considering rejoining the San Luis Obispo County plan.
Three years ago, local officials determined the existing animal services shelter was dilapidated and a health hazard to both the animals and the people who work there. All seven cities in SLO County then entered an agreement to build a new $14.4 million shelter near the existing facility off Highway 1 outside the city of SLO.
After conducting a cost comparison analysis, the cities of Atascadero and Paso Robles found that they could save 10 percent by building their own shelter instead of paying for their shares of the countywide project. In meetings in late October, the Atascadero and Paso Robles councils voted 3-2 and 5-0 respectively in favor of pulling out of the county deal and moving forward with an alternative.
But on Tuesday, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors announced at a meeting of its own that Atascadero and Paso Robles have returned to the negotiating table. The two North County cities have indicated they want to lower the coast of operating a countywide shelter by running spay-neuter-release programs and educating the public, so as to reduce the number of animals entering the facility. Previously, the two cities threatened to start euthanizing animals to save money, though their planned North County shelter was going to be a no-kill facility.
Atascadero and Paso Robles additionally are requesting a deal that sets a contract in stone over the entire period in which the new shelter will be operational. County officials are now expected to resume discussions with the cities, and then the board of supervisors will continue its talks on the planned animal shelter in a few months.