Wednesday, Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk announced on his Facebook page that the had officially received $34,390.97
This was good news, Yuchniuk wrote, because the group had already raised $42,864.73. With the new addition, the amount was up to $77,255.70, just $22,744.30 from the $100,000 goal the town told them to raise to build a new animal shelter, he said.
But in an interview with First Selectman Dan Steward shortly thereafter, he said no such goal exists. The town will not build a new animal shelter , and it might not even happen then, regardless of the amount of money the committee raises for a new animal shelter.
“It’s not going to change,” said Steward of the 2016 time frame. “Once we get past the financing of the schools, then we can start talking about it.”
Atherton died in 2011 and left half of his estate to the animal shelter. That money just cleared through probate court, and has been donated to the animal shelter committee, Yuchniuk said.
The cost of a new animal shelter has been estimated at around $500,000.
Steward wants the animal shelter committee to use the funds it has raised to fix the pressing needs of the shelter. For example, the heating system is inadequate and the electrical system needs an upgrade, he said.
“They have to identify those costs, and I’m not so sure that has happened yet,” Steward said. “I believe they have raised enough money to fix those problems.”
Steward said in 2016, there will be no more added bonding costs associated with building five new schools. Then, maybe more capital projects can be added, but there are other more pressing projects than an animal shelter, such as a new building for public works, he said.
Yuchniuk, when contacted Wednesday, said the committee was working under an assumption that if the group raised $100,000, there would be a push for a new animal shelter, and the money raised would be used on a new shelter. He said that whatever the real situation is, he would continue to fundraise.
“I’m just going to stay positive and keep raising money, to do what is best for the animals,” Yuchniuk said.
The committee has a poster of a thermometer going to $100,000 as the amount of money they were trying to raise, which is filled to the amount it has raised, now $77,255.70. The group has been saying for months that if they raised $100,000, the town would support them in building a new animal shelter.