FLORENCE — Officials are evaluating staffing numbers at the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Services facility as demand at the new facility continues to be high.

Currently, there are four full-time and four part-time employees at the 3240 Roberson Road facility in Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park, Mayor Steve Holt said.

"We've talked about it," Holt said.

The $3 million, 13,000-square-foot facility opened earlier this year. It has some 215 kennels, compared to some 60 at the old shelter.

"We're six months into it, so it's still a balancing act of getting people's schedules right, and making sure we're not overwhelmed with animals," Holt said. "We were up over 200 animals last week."

Chapel King, who is a volunteer and adoption event coordinator for the facility, complained about the lack of staffing during a City Council meeting last week.

King thanked the council for the new facility and was complimentary of Director Cheryl Jones and the staff. However, she said more employees are needed.

"Currently, there are 215 animals there and only four full-time employees," she said. "For the past few years, volunteers have assisted (as unpaid staff) to keep the shelter going. Florence is better than this situation."

King said she does not want to think about what would happen without volunteers filling roles.

"The employees can only do so much," she said. "There is too much money put into this facility to let it fall apart due to inadequate staffing. The staff works hard to keep the animal shelter a low-kill facility, but we fear that animals will have to be euthanized."

The city increased sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar this year, which could open up additional funding.

"Hopefully, as the city revenue picks up, we can expand the staff," Jones said. "People don't realize how much money it takes to run an animal shelter. We're going to keep exploring avenues to bring in volunteers and community service people and see what we can do. We're grateful to the city for the budget we have, because we are a lot more fortunate than many other shelters."

Holt said Florence has $844,377 budgeted for the facility this year, including $410,783 in salaries and benefits for employees.

The mayor said he is pleased with the work Jones, her staff and the volunteers are doing, and will look into the possibility of additional staffing. He said they will include Lauderdale County officials in the conversation since the facility is jointly operated by the city and county, and the county is building an outdoor area for large animals on the grounds.

"Cheryl is an excellent manager and she still is balancing it out," Holt said. "We're going into the winter months, which normally means the number of animals is going to be less. We've got to balance out what do we need in the winter months versus what we need in the summer months.

"We'll look at it in a few months," Holt said. "For now, we'll stay with the staff level we've got."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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