Nearly two weeks ago, the Southampton Town Board unanimously approved an order allowing supervisor Linda Kabot to sign an agreement with the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation, Inc. The foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by several members of the town’s Animal Shelter Advisory Committee and local residents, will take over operations and manage the Southampton Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in January of 2010. The final agreement comes after months of discussion and will resolve the once uncertain fate of the town’s shelter for stray and abandoned dogs and cats.
As part of Kabot’s tentative budget released in September, she planned to shut down the animal shelter to decrease town expenses. The town is required to maintain an animal control division but an animal shelter isn’t a mandated service. Providing food, medical care and shelter for these cats and dogs was a large expense to the town and the annual operating costs hovered around $1 million. As news hit the public that the shelter would likely close if a private organization didn’t take over the operations, a petition to keep the doors of the shelter open was circulated in early October. By December, the petition was signed by close to 670 people.
By signing the deal, Kabot authorizes the foundation to control the operations of the shelter at its current building on Old Riverhead Road in Hampton Bays. The town will continue to manage the animal control division. As part of the agreement, the town will contribute $200,000 in 2010 for the care of the cats and dogs. In the remaining two years of the contract, the town will pay $250,000 and $300,000 respectively. The Town signed off on a three year contract with the foundation.
The animal control unit, which is comprised of four staff members, will be relocated to the animal shelter facilities in Hampton Bays.
In addition to five kennel attendants and two animal shelter education specialists, the foundation will hire additional staff. According to the foundation’s proposal, the animal shelter will have a veterinary technician — a position equivalent to a nurse for human patients — a volunteer coordinator and a full-time receptionist. The foundation expressed an interest in extending the hours of the facility, as noted in their preliminary proposal, and exploring the installation of solar technology to power the Hampton Bays building and reduce energy expenses. The foundation’s initial proposal also stated that the organization had already received $1.5 million in promised funding, but these donations would be allocated once the contract with the town was signed.
The town’s financial contribution will cover utility, insurance and building repair expenses, as well as housing at large dogs found by the animal control division, said the resolution. These costs will be covered by the mortgage tax revenue. With the approval of the Suffolk County Clerk’s office, Kabot raised the anticipated money collected from the tax from $5.25 million to $5.5 million. In its new found relationship with the foundation, the town will act as a landlord because the town owns the Hampton Bays facility while the foundation will manage the shelter.