De Soto Parish Police Jury set to vote on reduced budget to keep animal shelter open

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MANSFIELD, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Supporters of the animal shelter in De Soto Parish have reason to hope that the facility will stay open after all, with some significant budget cuts and a little help from the sheriff’s office.

The shelter was at risk of closing or drastically reducing operations after voters rejected a property tax proposal in April that would have maintained funding. The rejection of the 1-mill property tax proposal for the animal shelter and mosquito control left the facility with just enough funding through the end of the year.

The police jury was set to vote on closing the shelter at the end of the year, but on Wednesday, the committee overseeing the animal shelter approved a plan to cut the budget by more than $130,000 to $400,000.

“The previous budget, it was a little high. Well, the economy increased it a whole lot, and so the budget went up. A lot of things going up, so we’re just scaling back,” Animal Control Committee Chairman Rodriguez Ross said. “We all agreed on a budget the parish and the taxpayers can afford.”

Animal shelter director Connie Philipp says scaling back will mean ending their on-call service.

“Essentially, we’ve been available 24/7, so even if you don’t get called, you get paid two hours. So cutting out that portion, of – again – a salary or pay in the budget as well as the answering services that provide those calls at one in the morning, I’m just finding forty thousand right there.”

She said they plan to cover some of the additional costs by fundraising, receiving donations from people in the community, and enlisting help from the DeSoto Parish Sheriff’s office.

“I’ve talked with sheriff Jason, and we would like to see about using trustees to help clean over there. I’ve been able to work with them before on different situations, and there are some guys over there that are really good with the animals, and that’s what I need.”

The proposed budget is now set to go before the full police Jury for a final vote on November 15. Ross said he feels optimistic it will pass.

“Oh yeah, it will because all the jurors feel like it’s needed. it’s a needed service.”

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