Nov 7, 2013 12:32 AM by Joanna Wise

Animal shelter turns toward Pueblo leaders after 1a fallout

The Pueblo County "Quality of Life Tax" didn't make it very far with voters. The $7.5 million tax would have benefited a half-dozen non-profits-- but failed with a 56% vote Against-- 43% For.

"We were sad and disappointed," said Julie Justman, Executive Director of Pueblo Animal Services.

The animal shelter isn't alone.

That's the same feeling many 1a supporters felt last night, after a majority of voters told Pueblo leaders to stay out of their pocketbooks.

"The voters have spoken," said Justman, "and they feel like this isn't the right solution."

But Justman says they need a solution-- and fast. "We're understaffed and not providing the number of staff that is adequate for the number of animals that are coming through here."

They're hoping it lies within the county and the city. The shelter is asking for more money; a combined 2014 budget of $1.2 million dollars.

But the city says they have their own budget shortfalls to worry about.

"Well we're going to have to sit down and make some tough decisions on cutting out $1.8 million," said Pueblo City Councilman Ed Brown.

Brown says his main priority is to go into the new year with a balanced budget, leaving the reserve funds untouched. When asked if the non-profits would have to take some of the heat...

"I assume we're going to have across the board cuts on all of those that are affected..." he said.

The animal shelter doesn't like that answer.

"If the county can't find a resolution to this, then there's always a potential that we would not be operation in Pueblo next year, but that is not what we want," said Justman.
The city and county would have to take over the shelter, something they had to do 11 years ago, before they asked the Humane Society to take over.

"We were here at the request of the community," said Justman. She hopes they'll be able to stay here for the long run.

The city will meet later this week to come up with a solution for its budget shortfalls.



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