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Humane Society nears fund-raising goal

August 18, 2000

Humane Society nears fund-raising goal



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


The Humane Society of Washington County is close to reaching its $2 million fund-raising goal for a new building.

About $1.8 million has been raised so far, of which more than $800,000 has come from private donations, said Executive Director Shelly Moore.

While the Humane Society won't have the bids for the 14,000-square-foot building for a few weeks, Moore said the cost is expected to increase from the $1.325 million estimated in June to nearly $2 million.

The main reason for the increase is the rising cost of construction work because contractors are so busy, Moore said. Also, there were some changes from the original design.

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Even though the Humane Society has a contract for the Washington County Commissioners to fund 70 percent of the project, Moore said it is important to raise the remaining $200,000 from private contributions.

The County Commissioners had expected to fund approximately $927,500, but with the rising cost the county's share might increase to $1.4 million.

Moore said she wasn't sure the county would be able to fund $1.4 million.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said the county agreed to pay 70 percent, but the commissioners have a fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers that will have to be taken into consideration in light of the cost increase.

Shoop, calling Friday from Ocean City, Md., where the Maryland Association of Counties convention is being held, said if the cost of the project has risen considerably, the commissioners will have to discuss the county's funding share with the Humane Society.

The new building would enable the Humane Society to double or triple the number of dogs and cats it places with area families.

Excavation is expected to begin in September and construction in October with the opening expected next summer, Moore said. The new shelter will be built next to the existing one on Maugansville Road.

The Humane Society got informal approval from Hagerstown's City Council this week for $45,000 over three years for the project.

The council is expected Tuesday to formally approve $15,000 from this year's contingency fund for the project, said City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman.

A request last March for $75,000 was too steep, but $15,000 a year is closer to what the city usually doles out to community agencies, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

The Humane Society also received $45,000 from the Washington County Gaming Commission last year and will request another $50,000 this year, Moore said.

A funding request to the Maryland General Assembly was turned down earlier this year because the state bond program doesn't traditionally fund animal shelters.

Project fund-raising co-chairman Joseph Tischer said he was disappointed in the Washington County delegation's inability to get the shelter funding, saying the delegation lacked leadership.

Tischer said he might ask the state for funding again during the next legislative session.

If there is any money left over after the new building is constructed, Moore said it will go into an endowment to support the shelter's operation.

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