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Animal shelter on county agenda

People hoping to save more incarcerated pets in Stanislaus County are expected to weigh in tonight on a vision for a future animal shelter.

Also, county supervisors are scheduledto bless the notion of a short-haul rail link from Crows Landing to the Bay Area, and to add much ofdowntown Hughson to the county'senterprise zone.

Some aspects of the animal shelter's "needs assessment and masterplan," such as spending up to $13 million to expand or replace the aging, undersized shelter, came out in previous public workshops.

The full report will come before the county Board of Supervisors for the first time tonight, and pet lovers and animal welfare advocates are expected to make a showing, Animal Services Director Mike McFarland said.

As many as 80 healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are put down each day because the relatively tiny shelter long ago ran out of room, the report says.

Adding 25,000 square feet to the 13,000-square-foot shelter, built in 1974, would help save some of the 14,000 animals euthanized each year, the report concludes. The shelter takes in nearly 19,000 animals a year from unincorporated areas and all cities in the county except Oakdale and Turlock, which have their own pounds.

AnimalServicesofficers squeeze an average of 330 animals daily into the county shelter, which was designed to house 262. With the addition, 476 animals could fit.

Alargerfacilitywouldrequire about five more employees. Additional staff and operatingexpensescould boostcosts $290,000 per year, the report says.

Cities contracting with county animal services — Modesto, Ceres, Riverbank, Waterford, Hughson, Patterson and Newman — would play a key role in paying for the expansion and extra costs, the report says.

Whether the cities will go along is yet to be determined. Negotiators would approach each city to talk financing options, if supervisors give the go-ahead tonight.

"We call it the county shelter, but the city of Modesto produces more work for us," McFarland noted. Animals from Modesto account for 41 percent of the shelter's animal population, compared with 38.5 percent from unincorporated county areas.

A construction loan for $10 million to $13 million would require an annual debt payment of a bit less than $1 million, the report estimates.

Supervisors tonight could authorize bids for architectural designs.

Enterprise zone might expand

Also on the agenda:

A resolution supporting a short-haul rail link from the former 1,527-acre naval air station in Crows Landing to the Port of Oakland.

Supervisors cited hopes of developing rail service in their Feb. 27 preference of PCCP West Park as master developer of the business park at the site. The resolution "is an important first step to request infrastructure bond funds," according to a county staff report.

The resolution also cites "an opportunity for development of a new rail passenger service serving the west side of Stanislaus County."

Deciding whether to request state permission to add 215 acres of mostly commercial, industrial and business park property in Hughson to the county's enterprise zone.

Enterprisezonesoffertax breaks to spur economic growth.

An initial enterprise zone approvedinNovember2005 encompassed 67,509 acres in Modesto, Turlock, Ceres and unincorporated county areas. The state in January allowed a 3,090-acre expansion including portions of Patterson, Oakdale, Riverbank and Ceres.

If the state approves the Hughsonaddition,countyofficers would try again for Newman, Waterford and the Crows Landing development.

Today's Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or 578-2390.

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