Warsaw City Council Monday threw its support behind a one-time $50,000 appropriation to assist with construction of Animal Welfare League’s new facility.

The city currently pays $20,000 to AWL annually to take unwanted pets and other animals from the city, and the additional money would be paid for in installments this year and next year.

Council passed two measures on the subject that will be considered by the city board of works and safety as soon as Friday.

AWL is nearing the end of a fundraising campaign to pay for a $2.2 million facility at the corner of U.S. 30 and CR 325E.

AWL has spent the last 15 years at a nearby location that is undersized and generally worn out.

With much of the fundraising complete, AWL’s board of directors will soon begin constructing a foundation in coming weeks and AWL Executive Director Katey Wilks Zemen said they hope to be operational sometime in the summer.

Mayor Joe Thallemer introduced the proposal, but declined to make a recommendation, saying it was up to the council to decide.

Council passed the two recommendations unanimously after presentations by Wilks Zemen and the city’s animal control officer, Justin Curtis.

Once AWL transitions into its new building, Wilks Zemen said they plan to introduce several new programs that will help reduce the number of the unwanted pet population and illnesses.

Those initiatives include a low-cost spay and neuter program, educational services and a trap, neuter and release program for the male feral cat population.

The future 11,700-square-foot building will include “completely independent holding areas” for animals that will “virtually eliminate cross contamination” plus additional space that will allow the organization to help more animals, according to a request packet distributed to council.

Kosciusko County, which is providing $65,341 this year for services, recently approved plans to provide $100,000 this year and the same amount next year for the building project, according to county auditor Michelle Puckett.

Much of the money raised has come from the private sector. One supporter has provided nearly $300,000 for the project.

A lot of Monday’s discussion focused on the services provided to the city by AWL.

Curtis, offering a conservative estimate, suggested the city takes about 28 animals to the shelter on average each month.

Councilman Jeff Grose said the proposed donation represents about 2 percent of the total building project.  

“That sort of helped me put it in perspective,” Grose said.

The request came late in the year after an apparent miscommunication earlier in the year between the organization and the city.

“Evidently, there was an error when the information was sent to the city,” Thallemer said. “It was returned by mail is all we can figure out because we never got the request. Unfortunately, it missed the deadline of our budget hearing.”

Councilman Jack Wilhite said he wasn’t comfortable with what felt like a last-minute request.

But he also said he believes the city has a good relationship with AWL and that the city should “consider paying its fair share.”

Thallemer said he understood Wilhite’s concerns, but added that he thought AWL made a “compelling case” for support.

In both votes, Council President Diane Quance made the motion to approve the requests and Cindy Dobbins seconded.

Dobbins said she appreciated AWL’s efforts to seek out support from throughout the county.