Reitz's Pet Project Is A Drain On City

Editorial: By Jon A. Brake

It started out as a good project.

City Commissioner Roger Reitz has many good projects in mind for the citizens of Manhattan. He wanted to save the old Union Pacific Rail Road Station and he did it. It will cost $1 million but he saved it. He wanted to have a City owned Child Care Center and he got it. It will also cost a million.

But, Commissioners Reitzís real pet project is the Animal Shelter. He wanted to expand the shelter and he did it. It's cost is just short of a million and the City is going to be pay for it for a long time.

In 1999 the T. Russell Reitz Regional Animal Shelter was under the reluctant control of the Manhattan Health Department.

During construction in 2000 the City of Manhattan took control of the Shelter. The new shelter adds many needed things but mainly the shelter is able to keep dogs and cats longer. They also live in style as long as they live. The average stay has gone up from 2 weeks to 2 months.

And now for the problems. The Budget has gone from $208,157 in 1999 to $255,446 in 2000 and after cuts to $232,668 in 2002. With the new building came higher expenses and the City passed on the higher expenses to others using the Shelter. In 1999 Riley and Pottawatomie Counties contracted to send their dogs and cats to the Shelter. The Cities of Riley, Leonardville, Ogden, and Emmitt all contracted with the Shelter. All Counties and Cities paid a quarterly fee and then a per animal fee. In 1999 the animal shelter received $140,940.00 from the quarterly fees and $36,373 from the animal fees.

With the new building and the new fee many dropped out. The Cities of Riley, Leonardville and Emmitt all dropped. On July 2, Pottawatomie pulled out of their contract.

The 2002 Manhattan City Budget shows the 2001 Animal Shelter Budgeted Revenues at $255,446. The Projected 2001 Revenues are now listed at $219,031. And for 2002 the Budget shows Revenues will be $87,100.

The Shelter has lost $168,346 in projected income because everyone is pulling out. The City of Manhattan is going to be left with the much higher bill. As it now stands the City of Manhattan will be paying about $200,000 of the $232,668 Budget. But, that is not all. The City had to sell G.O. Bonds to pay for the Shelter. The City Debt went higher by about $700,000 and they now must pay $35,000 a year for principal and interest. That will be about the operating costs.

It was a good project but someone should have asked: "If we build it, will you continue to use the Animal Shelter. And, then they should have waited for an answer.