The cost to expand and renovate the Spotsylvania County animal shelter has nearly doubled since the county started planning the project three years ago.

The initial price tag was $3.79 million, according to a recent county staff report. In February 2017, the cost increased by $1 million. That spike was related to increasing the expansion from 8,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet.

Now the estimated cost of the project is approximately $7 million. The county has already set aside $3.79 million for the project.

According to recent staff reports, the cost increase is related to an expansion of the project’s scope, inflation and increased costs in the construction industry.

Supervisors have been wrestling with how to contend with the project’s cost.

“I think there’s a lot of concerns,” board chairman Greg Benton said at a Feb. 27 meeting, adding that he “cannot comprehend” the cost increase.

Supervisor Chris Yakabouski called the estimate “ridiculous” at the February meeting.

“It is a box … for dogs and cats to live in” until they are adopted, Yakabouski said.

Supervisor Kevin Marshall said improvements to the shelter are “definitely a need,” but he thinks the scale of the plans are too extravagant. He didn’t see a need for a “real-life” room, which would have couches and such to simulate a home setting.

The current plans call for adding 40 new kennels; enlarging kennels to meet industry standards; adding a holding space for cats and dogs; building three visitation rooms, including “real-life” spaces; adding three puppy kennels; reconfiguring the current space; adding “dog runs” for canines; replacing deteriorated kennels; and improving floor finish.

Some of the work on the shelter, built in 2000, is required by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in order to get the facility up to code.

The supervisors have floated ways to potentially reduce the cost of the project, such as scaling back the expansion and possibly building a new shelter elsewhere on county-owned property.

Project bids are expected to be sent out in May and could be awarded in July or August. The project, as currently planned, is expected to take 18 months to complete.

But the supervisors plan to use the bids to determine whether to move forward with the current plans or to make adjustments to the scope of the project.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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