Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has announced a townhall meeting to receive input from the city residents on building a new animal shelter.
The meeting will help determine whether the project has enough support to pass a referendum tax increase to fund the new shelter, estimated at $1 million. Scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m., the meeting will be held in the Robert M. Walker Building (1415 Walnut St.) in the boardroom.
The issue of the shelter was discussed by the Mayor and Alderman in their regular meeting on Monday, where the board passed a resolution to ask the state legislature to allow a one-cent sales tax increase. The increase is for capital improvements in the amount of $55 million.
A new animal shelter was not on the list of projects originally proposed in 2018 for the tax increase. If the legislature approves the tax, it will then go to Vicksburg’s voters in 2021 to put the tax into place.
Vicksburg Animal Shelter Director Kacie Lindsey attended Monday’s meeting, and she has been passionate about the needs of a new animal shelter in the city. It is Lindsey’s hope to have the shelter more centrally located and out of the Kings’ flood zone.
Flaggs and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who is accountable for public works and the animal shelter, believe otherwise.
“To spend $1 million on this project is absurd,” Flaggs said, as the current budget for a new animal shelter is $247,368. At this time, no available land has been located to build the shelter and stay within budget.
In 2018, the city sheltered 1,079 animals, and in 2019, that number dropped to 863.
“I think we ought to contract out sheltering animals in Vicksburg, Mississippi,” Flaggs said. “I don’t think we have enough animals in the city to continue to spend the money and to go spend $1 million. I am for animals. I love animals, but we don’t need to be in that business if it costs you more than the service. We need to re-evaluate that.”
The acquisition of land for a new shelter is an expensive proposition, said Alderman Mayfield.
“This has been long and drawn out. I have gone all the way from Kings, Mississippi, down to 61 South to the airport, and we’ve covered everything in between there. None of it is cheap if you buy a building or build from the ground up. It’s going to cost you,” Mayfield said. “I will meet with the Mayor and Alderman (Alex) Monsour, Jeff Richardson, Kacie and the board attorney about some things and look at something new because everything we do it seems to get more expensive.”
Ronni Mott contributed to this story.See a typo? Report it here.