From the outside, Healdsburg's new animal shelter appears close to completion, but it is over budget, behind schedule and more money is needed before it can open.
The state-of-the-art, pet-friendly animal shelter was originally scheduled to be open any day now. But higher-than-anticipated costs and lackluster donations for a $1 million "sustainability" campaign to operate the shelter have pushed the projected opening into next year.
"We've had some unexpected costs, higher than what was budgeted," George Dutton, treasurer and member of the shelter's board of directors, said Friday.
Additional funding in the neighborhood of $300,000 to $350,000, is needed to complete the interior of the building off Westside Road, he said.
"We're very pleased the shell will be finished and it will be a secure building," he said of the work that should be complete by Nov.1.
"As far as being able to raise additional funds and finish and occupy the building, we don't know when we'll be able to do that — certainly by spring of next year, dependent on what we can generate in the community," Dutton said
The 7,000-square-foot building is three times the size of the 50-year-old, cinderblock shelter it is replacing across the road, next to the city's equipment yard.
With larger, less stressful kennel conditions and natural lighting, it is designed to house twice as many animals as the 400 to 500 a year at the current facility.
Most of the money for the project was donated from the estate of the late vintner Rodney Strong and his wife Charlotte, animal lovers who designated the funds in their will.
Dutton said the original $3.25 million budget for the project has climbed to $3.5 million.
The cost of buying the 3.7 acre site was higher than anticipated, he said, as was the cost of providing utilities.
"It was very expensive to develop sewer and water," he said, noting of the 440 linear feet of pipeline, along with permits and connection fees.
Funds still need to be secured to provide for kennels for the dogs and cats, staff telephones, kitchen appliances and landscaping.
And there are higher insurance costs associated with the new shelter, along with moving costs that need to be covered.
Dutton noted that historically more than half of the shelter's operating budget has come from donations. "About 4,200 people have donated to the shelter," he said, describing that as "a pretty good data base."
He expressed confidence that more money will be found to open the shelter as more potential donors tour it.
"We'll be making a full-out effort," he said.