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No to pound proposal in Lee County

Facility cost higher than anticipated

DIXON – The Lee County Board on Tuesday shot down a proposal to build a dog pound in the local industrial park.

The board voted 15-7 against spending $366,000 for the animal control facility at the Lee County Business Park at state Route 26 and Interstate 88. The low bid was nearly $100,000 more than expected.

In July, the board approved spending $60,000 to buy 2.5 acres at the industrial park. At the time, officials discussed spending up to $275,000 for the new pound.

A couple of years ago, the county started looking into having its own pound because its contractor, River Ridge Animal Hospital, increased its rates. The county is now paying about $25,000 a year in rent, officials said. 

Board Vice Chairman John Nicholson, R-Franklin Grove, proposed spending the $366,000 from the capital projects fund, although he admitted he was disappointed in the bids.

Unexpected factors increased the costs, including the city of Dixon’s decision to ban pole buildings, Nicholson said.

Over 20 years, he said, the building’s cost would amount to $20,000 annually, less than what the county is paying in rent.

“I think we’re creating an asset for the county, not a shoebox full of rental receipts,” he said.

Other members disagreed.

Vern Gottel, R-rural Sterling, said it appeared the county moved ahead with the project with “really good intentions.”

“But we made a lot of bad decisions,” he said, adding that it wouldn’t have happened if the county had an administrator. “We’re trying to make decisions as individuals on committees, but there’s just no coordination.”’

Tim Deem, R-Dixon, said members have yet to get information on maintenance and staffing costs for the new facility. 

“I see a lot of hidden costs that haven’t been presented,” he said.

Greg Witzleb, R-Dixon, said it wasn’t a good time to undertake such spending, given the county’s financial uncertainty, especially with landfill revenue. He compared the purchase to a family buying a house without knowing its income.

Nicholson took exception to the analogy, saying it wasn’t a new cost because the county already was paying rent.

Allyn Buhrow, R-Ashton, said the county needed to get a handle on the costs.

“We don’t need any more surprises,” he said.

After the vote, Nicholson said several members had spent a lot of time on the project. He asked board members to give him alternatives. 

Backing the purchase were Nicholson; board Chairman Rick Ketchum, D-Amboy; Marvin Williams, R-Dixon; Bill Palen, R-Dixon; Ann Taylor, R-Amboy; Kasey Considine, D-Amboy; and Steve Kitzman, R-Dixon. 

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