A new animal shelter was one of the possibilities dangled before Lafayette Parish voters when they agreed in March to combine existing mosquito control and public health taxes.
On Tuesday, that concept got a step closer to realization when the City-Parish Council allotted $500,000 for architectural and engineering fees for a new 20,000-foot animal control facility to replace the obsolete 6,000-foot facility on Pont des Mouton Road.
Originally, administrators requested a $3 million allocation for the animal shelter, but the council only allotted $500,000 and will vote on the rest of the funding at a later date.
The council Tuesday officially created the Combined Public Health Millage special revenue fund that voters approved March 28. From now on, tax revenue paid for mosquito control and public health unit will go into this single fund for use for those expenses as well as for animal control expenses. Excess balances from the mosquito and public health unit funds also will be transferred to the new fund.
Three animal control caretaker positions were authorized to be created Tuesday and the parish and other participating municipalities (excluding Broussard, which gets animal control service from another parish) were authorized to receive refunds.
Four municipalities in Lafayette Parish pay Lafayette Consolidated Government for animal control services. Yougsville pays $71,000 a year; Scott, $56,000; Carencro, $52,000; and Duson, $9,600. They will no longer need to pay those fees.
City-Parish President Joey Durel first floated the idea for the combined tax at his 2014 State of the City-Parish Address, saying the health unit and mosquito taxes generate more money than is needed. Meanwhile, there was no dedicated tax for animal control which needs more funds.
A former pet-store owner, Durel said at the time that combining the taxes into a single fund and adding animal control to the mix would allow Lafayette to build a more modern animal shelter, perhaps with a retail-store atmosphere to display animals available for adoption and could bring the parish closer to a no-kill facility.
The combined tax is expected to generate about $6.6 million a year.