The city of Waco’s animal shelter is seeking $2 million in funding for renovation costs for a new adoption center to increase the number of animals that find homes.

Assistant City Manager Wiley Stem spoke Monday at a meeting with the city and the McLennan County Commissioners Court where he said the shelter has an 85 percent live-exit rate now, which is 5 percent away from being a no-kill shelter.

“It’s a pretty significant amount of money, but every study the Humane Society has done or that we have done says we really need twice this,” Stem said.

Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. said the shelter has had great success since the city took over management of the facility a little more than a year and a half ago from the Humane Society of Central Texas, which now runs the adoption service.

County Judge Scott Felton said after the meeting that it was clear the shelter was in need of funding help and that this was the first time it has come before commissioners.

But there are limitations to the shelter, including the 50- to 60-year-old kennel. Duncan said the city is seeking funding through partnerships and community donations.

There are 15 cities in McLennan County that have contracts with the shelter, Stem said.

Duncan said now is the right time for a campaign because support for the shelter since the city took control has reached an all-time high. He also stressed that the issue of stray animals is countywide.

“It’s not just a Waco problem,” he said.

The city already has committed to contributing $500,000 toward the shelter renovation.

A new clinic would include the new adoption center and a pet play area with a covered pavilion. It also would have a veterinary clinic for spay and neuter surgeries and microchipping, a remodeled cat room, a dedicated puppy house, improved parking and a redesigned animal intake area with drive-thru capabilities.

The city has a link on its website for residents to donate to the new shelter fund.

Also at the meeting, the two entities discussed the idea of increasing the amount of shared services.

Clint Peters, the city of Waco’s director of planning, said the city will work to put together a task force of people from the county, city and Waco Independent School District to see if there are possibilities for shared space.

Peters said they are looking into hiring a professional architect to look at the structures belonging to the three entities to see if there’s any room for consolidation or the ability to sell unneeded property to get it back on the tax rolls.

“I think this is a neat opportunity for us to do something different,” Peters said.

Rural transportation

Felton at the meeting again reiterated that he thinks there is a need for a rural transportation district.

Duncan said he has heard that increased transportation availability in the county would help give people access to needed educational resources.

Felton said the cost to deliver those services through the Heart of Texas Council of Governments, which is responsible for rural on-demand transit, has been fairly expensive.

The proposed countywide district would redirect state money from the HOTCOG to an interlocal agreement with the Waco Transit System, which operates urban routes.

“I felt like it was my duty to look at the interest of McLennan County first, and the Heart of Texas Council of Governments after that,” Felton said.

Felton said at Tuesday’s commissioners court meeting, the court will discuss, and possibly vote on, the declaration of intent to create a district. If approved, a committee will be formed of the mayors of the county’s incorporated cities to discuss a plan.

Waco Transit General Manager John Hendrickson said the interlocal agreement would provide economic stimulus, as it would give residents a way to access jobs, education and medical facilities, and employers would have access to a larger pool of employees.

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