Requests for county funding of shelters for animals and people were eyebrow-raising for Allen County Commissioner Dick Works Tuesday morning.
Faith House, a shelter for homeless people in Chanute, asked for assistance of $3,000. Board member Art Chapman proposed the county provide $50,000 to Allen County Animal Rescue Facility in LaHarpe.
“I have a hard time balancing” the requests, Works said, as commissioners spent another session hearing requests for funding from the county’s 2012 budget.
Chapman said ACARF owed $135,000 on a $150,000 personal loan secured early last year so construction of the facility could proceed. Also, ACARF’s monthly financial statements have shown losses of $4,000 to $5,000, although “last month it was $2,400,” he said. “Maybe it’s starting to turn around.”
ACARF board member Larry Macha, who accompanied Chapman to the county commission meeting, said that there was a possibility the shelter might have to close without a significant infusion of money.
“We need time to build up the shelter,” which began its second year July 7, and its financial support, Chapman said.
He noted ACARF had been successful in taking strays off the streets, rescuing dogs and cats that otherwise would face dire futures and has found homes for about 240 pets, mostly dogs. Also, animals that leave the shelter are in no danger of adding to the population; all are spayed and neutered.
ACARF income comes from three sources. ACARF has contracts with Iola, Humboldt, Gas and Elsmore to take animals for a fee of $75, same as is charged to individuals who bring in unwanted dogs and cats. It also solicits and receives donations as well as hosts fundraising events, including the concession trailer that had a prominent presence at the Charley Melvin Mad Bomber Run For Your Life event Friday night in Iola.
ACARF bills people for adoptions and pet claims, but they do little more than cover expenses.
“People don’t have a whole lot to brag about right now,” with recovery from the recession plodding along, Chapman said. “But, many are proud of the shelter. Some people carry pictures to show and like to tell about how successful we’ve been in rescuing pets.”
How full is it? “Very full,” Chapman said. “We have 65 dogs and 55 cats today.”
The animals are held for adoption and “kept as long as we can,” Chapman said. Some eventually are put down, as are feral cats.
“We’re up against it with the budget as it is,” said Commission Chairman Rob Francis. “And $50,000, that’s a half mill (tax levy). People aren’t going to be happy with a half-mill increase in their taxes.”
Commissioners made no commitment to the ACARF reps, nor to Linda Stange, executive director of Faith House.
She told commissioners the homeless shelter, open since November 2007, houses 12 people at a time, is always full and often has a lengthy waiting list.
“Last year we had 196 (stay there), with 59 from Allen County,” Stange said. “We helped another 92 in other ways” and gave counsel to 45 Allen County residents who became unemployed or who are underemployed.
“Faith House isn’t a bandage, it’s a solution,” she added, by helping those who come understand how they can live with the resources they have. “A person making $7.50 an hour (at a fast-food restaurant) can’t live in a $400 rental. If they try to, they’re going to fail.”
Assistance also is given to clients after they leave the shelter, tutoring in such things as how to develop a personal budget and make wise purchases at the grocery.
The shelter has a staff of five with accumulative wages of $64,000 a year.
“If we didn’t have husbands who supported us, we’d be in a shelter, too,” Stange said.
Monthly cost to keep the shelter operating is about $7,400, she said.
Chanute has been financially supportive since the get-go, Stange said. Iola also will be asked to contribute $3,000.
WADE BOWIE, county attorney, requested a 2012 budget of $264,150, up from this year’s $227,102.
He mentioned salary increases for employees “who haven’t had one in some time” and contracted services as reasons for the increase.
Support of $110,300 was sought for the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center by Bob Chase, executive director. Its budget next year is anticipated at a tad over $7 million.
Chase pointed out that the center lost $165,082 in Medicaid funding during the three months leading up to July and that additional cuts were expected in 2012. He said staffing adjustments were made to cope with the lost revenue.
Commissioners have heard budget requests during several of their weekly meetings and will put together the 2012 spending document by the end of July. A public hearing will be set for mid-August.