Fresno County supervisors are putting $3 million each – $9 million total – into a plan to construct a new animal shelter, new sheriff’s substation and district attorney’s offices.
The mid-year budget vote occurred because the county has received revenues that weren’t forecast when the budget was finalized last year.
The funding should fully pay for a new animal shelter but will only partially pay for the other projects. A site for the animal shelter hasn’t been determined, but won’t likely be at the existing location on Teilman Avenue, west of Highway 99 in Fresno.
Supervisors voted 4-1, with Supervisor Debbie Poochigian opposed to the split of the money. She wanted more funding used for the sheriff’s project and also supported the animal control shelter. The sheriff’s office has been trying to improve or replace its substation on Shields Avenue east of Clovis Avenue in Fresno.
Poochigian said the sheriff’s office is on a month-to-month lease for the existing substation. Sheriff Margaret Mims has said she wants to build on a new site near Belmont and Armstrong avenues, about two miles southeast of the existing site. The cost for offices at the substation is estimated at $4 million.
Poochigian said the county can put more toward the district attorney’s office when it sells surplus land, possibly the old Elkhorn boot camp facilities, which have been deemed surplus. The estimated cost is $19 million to $20 million.
County supervisors have opposed selling Elkhorn in the past, but it will return to supervisors for further discussion within a few weeks, officials say.
Brenda Mitchell, president of Fresno Humane Animal Services, said she appreciated the supervisors’ approval.
“We’ve got to get out of there,” she said. “We’ve got potholes in parking lots, and we have no ability to properly quarantine animals.”
We’ve got potholes in parking lots, and we have no ability to properly quarantine animals.
Brenda Mitchell, president of Fresno Humane Animal Services
Sites being considered for a new animal shelter are at the county’s Juvenile Justice Center near Malaga and a site owned by Derrel’s Mini-Storage near Grantland Avenue and Highway 99.
Board Chairman Buddy Mendes said the board’s approval of the projects is a good start. “Just with these (dollar) numbers we can get a heck of a lot done,” he said.
Supervisors couldn’t get a motion to pay $500,000 for a special election in April to replace Assembly Member Henry T. Perea. Supervisors said they intend to appeal to the state to pay for the election.
The 31st Assembly District is in western Fresno County and includes parts of the city of Fresno. Perea resigned in December to take a job advising a pharmaceutical industry organization.
To pay for the election, supervisors were considering using $500,000 from the same pool that paid for the animal shelter, sheriff’s substation and district attorney’s office.
During the recession, the state stopped paying for special elections. The state is no longer in financial difficulties and should foot the bill, supervisors said.
County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau suggested sending a letter to state officials and engaging the county’s lobbyist to assist the county with getting reimbursement for the election costs.
If the state fails to take action, then supervisors could consider the election issue in March, he said.
The county has about $12.7 million available through money paid back to the county for mandated payment refunds, Proposition 172 money that is dedicated to law enforcement and tobacco tax monies.
The county has building needs that exceed $58.5 million, according to county documents.