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FOR FIRST TIME IN TWO YEARS, LEGISLATORS AGREE TO FUND ANIMAL SHELTER

The county's stray and lost dogs and cats will have a new shelter later this year following Genesee County legislators' decision Wednesday to fund a $603,000 facility.

It has been two years since the lawmakers agreed to include the county animal shelter in a capital projects list. In the meantime, growing frustration by animal lovers and others over debates on cost, size and location found legislators in the doghouse.

The approval Wednesday adds about $370,000 to the $182,000 appropriated last year.

Volunteers for Animals, a nonprofit group whose members staff the existing shelter, had promised to donate at least $50,000. Another $70,000 will be spent for engineering studies.

The present shelter, on Mill Street in Batavia, is old, too small and consists of stacked cramped cages. The new building at 6,000 square feet will be four times larger and will include facilities for care and treatment of the animals.

It will be located on the West Main Street Road, Town of Batavia, next to a county office building. Construction could start in early summer with completion before year's end, according to county Manager Jay A. Gsell.

The lawmakers also:

Approved funding of up to $230,000 for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce's publicity and tourism services. The money would come from the county's 3 percent bed tax, which last year raised $264,000, a 38 percent increase over 1998.

Reappointed the chamber as the county's official tourism agency for the coming year.

Legislator Matthew D. Betters, D-Oakfield, cast the sole "no" vote on both chamber resolutions but offered no explanation. He also voted against the 2000 year capital projects plan, contending that the animal shelter should be a separate item.

Authorized the purchase for nearly $200,000 of 11 cars and one van for the county Highway Department's Motor Pool. Under the state's bidding process, none of the purchases went to local dealers.

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