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Ledyard - The Finance Committee voted Wednesday to make an emergency appropriation of $20,000 to the town's animal control facility for urgent repairs that, left unresolved, might have led to the operation's closure.
The appropriation was prompted by a January facility inspection by state Animal Control Officer Todd Curry, who set a deadline for the end of this month for the town to show a "significant effort" toward complying with state health and safety codes.
In a letter to the committee dated March 12, Resident State Trooper Sgt. Jeffrey McDermott asked for $15,000 - based on estimates from the town's public works department - to improve conditions for the employees and animals, along with $5,000 to fix an "inefficient and problematic" ventilation system.
If forced to close, he wrote, outsourcing animal control services could be even pricier than the repairs and would "provide a diminished service to the town."
The catalog of damage to the facility goes back years and includes peeling paint, cracks and holes in the walls and floors that contain bacteria and let in rodents and insects, rusting to the metal kennel structures and mold buildup. Some of the issues have led to both animal and employee injuries, said Animal Control Officer Kimlyn Marshall.
Though no one on the Finance Committee debated the necessity of the repairs, Chairman Mike France expressed frustration that this request was the first that town officials had heard of it. With the deadline looming, he said, the committee would be forced to make a last-minute emergency appropriation and grant bid waivers to the contractors that the public works department has selected.
Marshall said she has brought the various maintenance issues to the attention of the town's public works department multiple times. Marshall and McDermott said they were both unaware that the requests needed to be made to the Finance Committee, while Mayor John Rodolico said he had not known that there were state mandates involved.
"That's a process breakdown that we can't afford," France said. "We need to make sure that that doesn't happen again going forward."