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2013-01-17

Expanded duties on tap for next AC liaison

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

By a unanimous decision, a newly configured Bandera County Commissioners Court approved the next step in the construction of a proposed animal shelter - issuing a request for competitive sealed proposals.
To give the court more latitude on the project, point man Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris recommended soliciting proposals rather than bids for this next stage. "This will give us negotiating room," he explained. "If we go out for sealed bids, we're required to accept the lowest one, period. That leaves us very little room for negotiation ."
Reiterating that the budget for the facility remained tight, Harris said that to save money a lot of the work would be completed by local and county crews. "It will take creative thinking and management style," he commented.
As examples, he said that purchase of the metal building, as well construction of fencing, blocks and kennels, would not necessarily be included in the proposal. "If they propose a $80,000 metal building and I can find one for $60,000, that's a savings of $20,000 right there," Harris said.
He noted that architect Kenneth C. Burns, AIA, had already increased the facility's square footage to 6,000 square feet. "[Construction] will have to be followed through every step of the way to make sure everyone is on the same page and the project comes in within our budget," Harris said.
He added, "This will be a beautiful efficient facility that will have an increased capacity without an increased budget. It's an important project for the taxpayers. I can't wait to put the first animals in this facility."
In related business, commissioners also voted 5-0 to revise the job description of the combination Clerk-Animal Control Liaison.
At this time, the AC liaison currently reports to the county attorney with duties divided between providing clerical support for that office and providing clerical, administrative and management support to the sheriff's office about animal control issues and the impound shelter.
With regard to the second capacity, the AC liaison would now coordinate efforts between the county and animal rescue organizations for the release of impounded animals; maintain the county's AC website; assist the county attorney with animal cruelty cases; maintain records on animal impoundments, adoptions, destructions and transfers; educate the public; and, most importantly, supervise and manage the daily operation of the county animal control facility.
Other duties would include examining animals visually and assessing their well being, administering shots and medicines to them and having a general knowledge of animals.
"This is the first modification of job description since it was formalized almost four years ago," Harris said. The most critical change was to put the liaison essentially in charge of the daily management of the facility.
"In the future, we'll have to make some hard decisions as to who the liaison will report to," Harris said, "but what's currently in place will do for the interim."
Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Grimes questioned whether a high school education or GED equivalent was sufficient for the position, especially with regard to administering medicines, shots and inoculations, as well as assessing animals' conditions.
"We've always been fortunate to have the support of local vets," Judge Richard Evans noted, ticking off Drs. Conrad Nightingale, Steve Sells and Mark Richardson.
In Harris' opinion, experience clearly outweighs education in this situation. "You have people in rescue organizations that have been running shelters for years with just a high school education. It's the experience that's important," he countered. "You wouldn't want to stop a high school graduate who has worked as vet tech for 15 years from applying for this job."
With no further questions and discussions, commissioners voted 5-0 to adopt the expanded job description as a working document.
The newly approved job description will be posted on the county website in short order.