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Davis Journal

Possible tax increase would fund operational needs at new Animal Care facility

Jun 20, 2024 07:17AM ● By Becky Ginos
How about a belly rub? Photo courtesy of Animal Care Davis County

How about a belly rub? Photo courtesy of Animal Care Davis County

FARMINGTON—The Davis County Commission is considering a possible tax increase to cover operations at a new Animal Care facility that will replace the current building that is almost 40 years old and bursting at the seams. A tax increase would amount to approximately $11 a year on an average priced home.

“The last time a tax increase was approved for county government was in 2016,” said Commissioner Lorene Kamalu. “Because of wise financial management by Auditor Curtis Koch and his team’s work over the years there is enough in the capital budget to build the new building. The tax increase is only for the amount of money for operations that is absolutely needed.”

Animal services are required by state law, said Kamalu. “It’s a public health and safety service to prevent animals from being all over and spreading disease or causing accidents.”
Across the state, usually a city figures out animal services, she said. “Animal services have historically been done by Davis County. We have 15 cities. It doesn’t make sense for the cities to figure out services on their own. It’s more efficient to have the county do it.” 

There has been tremendous growth in the human population – more than twice the population in 1985 (when the building was built) and the animal population is so much bigger, said Kamalu. “Nationally there has been a huge increase in the population of animals since the pandemic. A lot of people got animals.”

Animal Care stepped up their game for this animal tsunami using the amount of money for operations they’ve used for years and years, she said. “Some of the staff are in closets, they’re doubling up dogs. It’s unhealthy for the animals.”

They work so hard at having the best operations without money, Kamalu said. “They’ve had to be innovative to figure it out. It’s hard to see the animals need a better space and they don’t have it – they just don’t.”

One of the great things to keep costs down is the volunteers, she said. “They’re absolutely remarkable. There’s nearly 1,000 volunteers. Animal Care is the only one to receive the gold level of volunteerism award from UServeUtah.”

Volunteers come up and get the animals outside, said Kamalu. “It helps with their mental health and makes them feel loved. Some take them on trail runs. We’re so thankful, that’s what allows us to have quality services.”

“The current building is 11,000 square feet,” said Ashleigh Young, Director Animal Care | Davis County. “We’re full. We have 200 animals being fostered or we wouldn’t have any more space. It makes a huge difference to have them take cats and dogs.”

Right now there is one big room for all the dogs, she said. “They’re all looking at each other and barking. In the new building we’ll have more space. It will lower their stress.”
In 2021, Young said they took in 1,478 dogs. “In 2022 it was 1,815. So far this year through May it’s 556 dogs.”

Young said the shelter has a 95% live release. “We’ve had positive outcomes. We only euthanize animals that are severely injured that we can’t help or dogs with a bite history that are not safe.”
The new facility will be built on the current land. “It will be an adventure continuing operating out of the old building while that one is being built,” she said. “We hope to break ground at the end of the year.”

Young said the tax increase will help them focus on medical care. “I’d love to have exams done by a veterinarian. We’ll also be able to do surgery in house. We’re required to spay and neuter the animals and it costs about $200,000 a year. If we can perform those it will be significantly less. We can also get additional staff so the animals can get the care they need.” 
It’s very early in the process, Kamalu said. “We’ll have a Truth in Taxation meeting first. We believe in transparency. Residents can follow what’s going on. We want them to know that we’re being very intentional.”