The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

City puts leash on shelter


Leon Youngblood | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Seward Animal Shelter’s Shelli McDowell negotiates with a small canine while a saint of a dog is bemused by a noisy pup. McDowell wears at least two hats around the Sixth Avenue shelter, serving as Animal Control Supervisor while also managing the facility’s operations and adoption service.

Seward City Manager Jim Hunt doesn’t know how the rumor came about that the city’s shelter would begin euthanizing animals. But according to him, despite changes in contracting for the operation of the city’s Alice Pickett Animal Shelter, it remain a no-kill facility for the foreseeable future. The rumor was voiced at Monday’s Seward City Council meeting and denied in fewer words by Public Works Director W.C. Casey.

However, according to the city manager, the shelter will become a division of the local government as the practice of contracting out the managerial position and operations for the facility runs afoul of IRS regulations. Because the city is the primary and almost exclusive source of funding and provides the land and building for the shelter, the IRS and insurers won’t allow the contractual arrangement.

According to Hunt the situation came to a head at about the same time as the contract was renewed, so administration is looking at ways of making the transition sooner rather than later, when the annual contract expires. Councilor Rissie Casagranda asked whether moving the shelter to a location off of city property would allow the contracting to continue.

Hunt told Casagranda that part of the regulatory breach would be addressed by such a move but the aspect of the non profit shelter’s source of funds would continue to be an issue ruling out contracting. The city continues to plan for relocation of the animal shelter to other city property and is considering a Fort Raymond site near the new Electric Department warehouse.

Seward’s deteriorating roads continued to be a topic of conversation when Councilor Vanta Shafer questioned Casey concerning progress on moving forward with the State of Alaska Department of Transportation in getting local streets paved. Originally, $5.8 million dollars in federal road project funds along with a list of council priorities was turned over to DOT by the Oates administration.

Because of DOT’s economy of scale in projects and contracting, it would have been to Seward’s advantage to have the road projects administered by the state agency. However, the administration then tried to change the priorities list and disagreements between the city and DOT ensued. DOT shelved the projects and the cash which was then subsequently subject to a federal funds sweep which stripped away $3 million.

Hunt says that the clock is ticking on the remaining $2.8 million, but that city administration and DOT are progessing in getting the projects underway.


Reader Comments

Debbie writes:

Although it is wonderful to hear the shelter called a no-kill shelter by the city manager. It has never been such per contract. The current contract states that the ACO is willing to euthanize. Granted our shelter has been run over the course of the current contract as a no kill shelter with the help of the community and outside efforts. What guarantee does the public have that it will continue to be maintained as a no-kill shelter far past the forseeable future?


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