New $4.5M estimate for Dare animal shelter

By on October 7, 2019

Dare County Animal Shelter Rendering


With the project’s design phase about two-thirds complete and the first shovel potentially breaking ground by the end of the year, the Dare County Commissioners learned at this week’s meeting that the price of tag of the new county animal shelter will be higher than initially estimated.

In a discussion of changes to the county’s Capital Improvements Plan at the Oct. 7 Dare County Commissioners meeting, County Manager Bobby Outten explained that the project’s cost, originally put at about $3 million, would likely rise to around $4.5 million. Despite the increase, he reassured the commissioners that “the funding [for the project] is there” and “it does not change the tax rate.”

Noting that the county would soon be soliciting bids for construction of the facility, Outten told the commissioners that “We had put…three million in our Capital Improvements Plan without knowing what it really costs.” He said the $4.5 million number “is where it seems to be going. We won’t actually know until we bid it.”

The new shelter has been a priority for Dare County for some time, with its current outmoded facility standing in stark contrast to the state-of-the-art shelter that opened in neighboring Currituck County in January 2016.

After the soaking rains of July 2018 briefly closed the Dare County shelter, the drive for a new facility picked up momentum with the commissioners adding the item to the 2019 Capital Improvement Plan.  (The propensity of the shelter to flood is why the Outer Banks SPCA put out an almost desperate call for people to temporarily “foster” its shelter animals before Hurricane Dorian hit the area in September.)

And after initially opting for a different architect, the board of commissioners reversed course and in November 2018, selected Waller, Todd & Sadler — the same firm that had designed the Currituck shelter — for the Dare County project.

In his remarks to the commissioners on Oct. 7, Outten discussed some of the special mechanical and electrical requirements, such as a complex cooling system, that shelters must incorporate — and which “are driving” the higher price tag.

“We’ve come to find out that there are some things about animal shelters that are expensive,” he said.

While no board action related to the shelter was required at this week’s meeting, the commissioners raised no real objections to the new cost estimate, although Commissioner Jim Tobin did mention the issue of exceeding the previous estimate.

The $3 million estimates for the “cost of the shelter are done by us,” Outten responded. “We picked them out of the sky. To say our cost went over the animal shelter estimate assumes we have an estimate.”

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  • Surf123

    Considering there is a lack of affordable housing in Dare this really seems like a waste of funds. The solution for shelters and animal lovers is to make it harder to buy/adopt pets which will reduce the need for shelters.

    Tuesday, Oct 8 @ 10:41 pm
  • Jackie Harris

    There comes a time when people have to consider that GOD made animals and I am sure that AC an enviormental controls were not in the master plan!. I know people love there pet’s but this is an out of control cost and for the Mgr. to say we took a shot in the dark and missed it by over 25% makes me wonder what his county budget is really like?? Also leaves the question as to the number of bidders/quality of designers. I am TOTALLY Against spending this much money for a shelter!

    Thursday, Oct 10 @ 4:12 pm