Animal Control Board’s version of contract sent back to N.C. company

Gary B. Gray • Apr 2, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Nearly one month after reviewing an offer by Enka, N.C.-based Dickerson, Bakker and Associates to lead a capital campaign to raise money for the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter, Animal Control Board members reviewed and approved a draft of their own.

The company’s reply? No idea.

“I don’t believe the company’s received this,” said City Commissioner and board member Ralph Van Brocklin.

“So we have no feedback on this?” asked County Commissioner and board member David Tomita.

“No, this didn’t go out until yesterday,” Van Brocklin replied. “I don’t know how many specifics I can give you. I apologize it’s taken as long as it has.”

Running about 35 minutes late to Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager and ACB Chairman Pete Peterson showed up and realized members had been reviewing an old version. He stopped the proceedings and made copies of the latest draft he had assembled with the help Jim Epps IV, staff attorney.

On his return, Peterson confirmed he had not heard back from the company. On March 7, the board decided to ask that city’s legal staff draft a document that would include the members’ concerns and counter-proposals. Concerns included a $5,000 per month asking price, not including expenses, wording which appeared to place unnecessary burdens on board members, methods of payment, reporting mechanisms and at least a dozen other issues.

The group was scheduled to regroup at a March 26 meeting, but it was canceled.

On Tuesday, members decided to keep the $5,000 per month fee. Other than that, a little verbal nipping and tucking and they were ready to send it away and await the company’s response.

“My thinking is, OK, if you get down to the end and it’s just not worth the monthly fee, we negotiate an hourly rate with the company,” Peterson said.

“Have we established a rate?” asked County Commissioner and board member Pat Wolfe.

“No,” Peterson responded.

In the end, that was left open. So was the number of months they would keep the company on -- if they agreed to the contract -- at a monthly rate.

“We have to be careful that we have enough to pay them,” said Debbie Dobbs animal shelter director.

“We’ve got some real property, but we don’t have much in the bank,” Peterson said.

That real property is the 6.6 acres off North Roan Street on which the new shelter will be constructed. The board has owned the land for a year, which lead to the next revelation.

Dobbs told members that the board was going to have to cough up $3,500 to pay Washington County property taxes on that land. It turns out that the state notified Dobbs recently that the new shelter could not qualify for tax-exempt, nonprofit status on land that had nothing on it.

Peterson suggested placing a building -- perhaps an outdated city or county classroom -- on the site to use as an office.

“We have to start thinking about these things,” he said.

The company’s proposal asks the board to pay a “discounted” $5,000 per month (down from $5,500) retainer fee for the first six months and renewable at certain periods contingent on progress. It also estimates a 15- to 18-month campaign, which would run about $99,000 if they were retained through the entire period. It also requires reimbursement for airfare, meals, car rental, mileage, lodging, postage/delivery fees and printing.

It also asks for $75 per hour for assistance with foundations, including research, grant writing and other services outside the monthly fee and includes a stipulation whereby the board can terminate the contract at any time after 30-days notice.

On Feb. 26, the company’s feasibility report revealed the company had identified a potential $250,000 donor. However, company President Derric Bakker told board members the gift was tentative and the unidentified donor was looking for someone to match that figure.

“As long as they will deliver, we’re probably in pretty good shape,” Peterson said at that time. “I don’t want anybody to think this is a bad proposal. It just needs to be tightened up.”

There was no indication Tuesday as to when the company might respond to the revised agreement.

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