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Larimer Humane takes a third shot at tax hike to build a new shelter

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The Larimer Humane Society www.larimerhumane.org) rolled out the troops today in its third try to get a new shelter built.

Volunteers and board members showed up at the County Clerk's Office with multiple boxes of signatures they hope will be sufficient to place an initiative measure on November's ballot to levy a penny-on-$10 sales tax to replace their current home.

The tax would "sunset" in six years or less and in the meantime would produce more than the $13 million needed to build a new shelter three times the size of the current one.

Today's contingent delivered 22,000 notarized signatures, far more than the 12,000 valid signatures needed to place the matter before voters. Now the county clerk has 30 days to validate them. That's the step that tripped up Larimer Humane last year.

In 2013, a similar petition drive fell short of the needed 11,263 signatures to place the issue on the November ballot. Shelter officials blamed a counting error on their part.

Larimer Humane then gathered public support and appealed to the county's board of commissioners to refer the matter to the ballot, but commissioners, though supportive, took no action because the county would have had only two weeks before the deadline for referral to work out details, said spokesperson Stephanie Ashley. (Elected officials "refer" measures to ballots, non-governmental groups "initiate" them.)

Should the current effort succeed, the sales tax hike would go into effect in Larimer County beginning January 2015. It would bring in more than $13 million Larimer Humane Society needs to build a new shelter on County Road 30 in Loveland just north of the Fort Collins/Loveland airport. Construction on the new facility would begin immediately and Larimer Humane Society could move within two years.

The current problem? The present shelter is 40 years old and failing. Many of the animals that come to Larimer Humane Society need to heal from injuries and mistreatment, shelter officials say. The current shelter is too small, poses disease control challenges and can no longer meet the needs of the community, they say.

The new animal shelter building and exterior yards would total 38,802 square feet, approximately three times the total area now. The humane society owns the land outright and likely would lease the new shelter to the county, Ashley said.

Larimer Humane Society provides sheltering and veterinary services for Larimer County’s homeless animals as well as animal control and disaster response services for the community.

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