The Rainbow District Animal Shelter in Azilda won the last contract in 2009, which is worth more than $400,000 a year. But in February, city council approved a number of changes when the work went out to tender again in March. For example, the winning bidder must file reports on mileage, complaints and the investigation and outcome of the investigation into complaints.
Anyone working for the contractor must have training in not only animal control, but also public relations. Although they would not be permitted to speak with the media or give public presentations without getting permission from the city beforehand.
The city also wants all vehicles to have automatic vehicle locators, for the safety of drivers and to make it easier to track complaints. It also wanted the contractor to enforce other city bylaws related to animal control, and not just provisions in the animal control bylaw.
Those elements weren't supposed to add to the price of the contract, but the city did include a number of options that would increase costs. They include having a veterinarian come in and assess whether an animal is ill or bad tempered, before the animal is put down. Other options include extending shelter operating hours to seven days a week, requiring shelters to keep stray animals for longer grace periods before adopting them out or putting them down, and offering free adoptions.
"That's enforcing two new bylaws," Richard Paquette Jr., whose family runs the shelter, said Tuesday. "I'm not sure why the city thought they could add extra services and requirements to the contract, but at no added cost. These things cost money."
Paquette said it has been a trying time for the 12 people who work at the shelter.
"It's disappointing," he said, although he expected they would bid on the new contract, in whatever form it takes.
Bids for both the main contract and the added options came in much higher than forecast. Staff met with the Rainbow District Animal Shelter to try and find a way to address the gap, but they couldn't agree. The city asked for the shelter's “best and final offer.
“RDAC provided a best and final offer, which was contingent on further modifications to the city's terms of reference, which staff could not agree with,” the report says. “The best and final offer was higher than the original RFP bid price.”
The shelter has agreed, however, to the 120-day extension.