Board balks at putting animal shelter tax to voters

January 29, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Fresno County's stray and abandoned dogs have been housed in this temporary shelter on the grounds of the old county morgue for three months. The county wants to build a permanent home.

Business owner Darrel Ridenour, who has the Hope Animal Foundation has offered 12 acres of land for a new site where more animals can be held for adoption and fewer can be euthanized. "For someone who really loves animals its really hard to think about 35 thousand animals in the county get euthanized every year."

Riednour, and Supervisors Phil Larson and Henry Perea, along with animal rescue groups want to ask the voters to approve a sales tax increase of about one tenth of a cent, to build a modern facility. But before asking the voters they need a majority of the County Supervisors to ask the state legislature for permission to create the new special taxing district.

Larson asked his fellow board members to go along: "A resolution is needed to give us permission to go out and proceed that's all we are asking for."

But three supervisors, Andreas Borgeas, Judy Case and Debbie Poochigian wouldn't go along. Borgeas said the idea "would be doomed to failure ."

Case said other cities in the county needed more time to weigh in on the idea. "I think this is way premature."

Poochigian was concerned about putting a tax measure on the ballot. She told supporters " You're not focusing on the tax where I think that's where the focus should be, I don't think we have to do this."

Seeing he didn't have the votes to get the plan going, Supervisor Perea asked for another week, to give him time to get the Fresno City Council on board with the idea. Poochigian and Case wouldn't budge, but Borgeas agreed to table the vote until next week. If voters ever get the chance to decide the tax it would raise an estimated $12 million dollars a year. The money would be used to build a $35 million dollar shelter, and to provide care, along with spay and neuter services for the entire county.

Larson defended the idea saying, "I don't want a new tax any more than you do but we are obligated to animal control and what other way can we do it."


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