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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Kern County has a spay-neuter plan.
Supervisors approved a framework Tuesday morning for spending $250,000 to launch an aggressive, targeted spay and neuter program.
The plan, drafted by an ad hoc committee of supervisors Leticia Perez and David Couch, would use money for spay and neuter vouchers, clinics in outlying communities, and programs to trap and alter stray cats before returning them to the streets.
Animal advocates cheered the progress but warned the county will need to track expenses to ensure it reduces animal overpopulation that now results in the killing of about 20,000 unwanted animals here each year.
Supervisors need to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and get the money where it does the most good, said Judi Daunell, president of the Friends of the Kern County Animal Shelters Foundation.
Perez said the ad hoc committee would meet again to determine specifics about how the money would be spent and targeted toward areas where animal overpopulation is worst.
"It's really nice to see us turn the corner," said Supervisor Mike Maggard. "Clearly the 06, 07, 08 zip codes are the biggest source of the problem."
Under the program approved Tuesday, $100,000 would be spent to fund vouchers for pet owners who live in those areas — the parts of metropolitan Bakersfield where most shelter animals originate.
Another $50,000 would go for mobile clinics in rural communities and $50,000 would be divided among supervisors to fund spay-neuter efforts in their districts.
The final $50,000 would be split between “trap-neuter-release” programs and a discretionary spending fund provided to Interim Kern County Animal Services Director Shyanne Schull.
In other business, supervisors also approved an additional $1.3 million expenditure from contingency funds to cover the final costs the county has incurred getting its new animal control shelter up and running.
The split last summer between the city and county, severing a 10-year shelter operation agreement, forced the county to find a new home for its animals in just a few weeks.
The county has spent nearly $4.2 million in construction work, overhead costs and staff to get the new shelter on Fruitvale Avenue running.
The shelter, said General Services Director Jeff Frapwell, is close to being fully operational.
"It has been a challenge, to say the least," Frapwell said.
Supervisors also Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to approve the development of an Islamic Center and school on Stockdale Highway at Driver Road in west Bakersfield.
The delay was triggered by a last-minute letter offering detailed environmental complaints from the attorney for residents of Buckaroo Ranch just north of the proposed worship center and school.
Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt said some of the environmental concerns raised could trigger the need for a more detailed environmental review. She asked for a delay to work through issues with both sides.
Attorneys from both sides said they accepted the delay even though they disagree on the core environmental issues.
Speaker Lois Watson reminded the board of the First Amendment protections for religion.
Members of the Islamic community, she said, have made important contributions to the Bakersfield community. They are, she said, entitled to the same freedoms as all other citizens.