Friends of the Faulkner County Animal Shelter and other supporters erupted in applause Tuesday evening after the Budget and Finance Committee moved forward with sending a millage request before the full quorum.
Justices of the Peace who make up the Budget and Finance Committee met up at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Courtroom A of the Faulkner County Courthouse and discussed a request for a millage increase to help fund daily operations of the proposed Faulkner County Animal Shelter.
The proposal includes a 0.25 millage increase to cover operational costs of the hopeful, future shelter. The tax, if passed by the full quorum on Tuesday, would collect $384,000 annually.
"This is a decade in the works," Donna Clawson, president of the Friends of the Faulkner County Animal Shelter said with a smile as architect Rik Sowell walked to the front of the courtroom with her, bearing in hand a rendering of what could be a county animal shelter.
The proposal featured a $2 million site plan. However, Sowell said the conceptual rendering was "very flexible" and could be made larger, or smaller, depending on what was needed.
The 10,000-square-foot site plan included both feline and canine holding areas, outside kennels, animal isolation areas, exam and other clinical rooms, a community room, adoption viewing area, sally port and more.
Seeing a site plan including an idea of what a county animal shelter could look like was a first for quorum court members.
As the two held up the renderings before an audience for the first time, the courtroom immediately was filled with applause as the courtroom, which was left with standing room only, began to cheer.
Committee members were questioned by audience members if the county planned to merge in this endeavor with the city of Conway. However, JP and Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee John Pickett said he and other committee members did not have an exact answer to that question. While the quorum has been told animal shelter representatives had discussions with Conway officials, no one from the city has spoke to the quorum regarding the matter.
Others in the audience said they felt that the rendering and proposal made Tuesday night was not an air-tight plan and already too costly.
Some in the crowd praised the initiative, stating they have gone above and beyond to help stray and injured animals across the county.
"We're living off of credit cards supporting the county's problems," Danielle Maddox of ArkanPaws Animal Rescue said.
With the millage as proposed costing residents about $5 annually, Clawson said she was hopeful it could make a difference and finally get the animal shelter on track.
"We're asking for a chance," she said, adding that the funding opportunity would open the door for other donations and support. "This makes me just giggle. There's lots of moving parts, but we have to get this funding. We have to get this millage. We have to get this going or it's going to be 2024 before we get this started."
JP William Dodgen said money collected would not bee seen until 2020, if the full quorum ultimately passes the proposal next week.
JP Randy Higgins said many questions asked went "beyond the conceptual plan" and ultimately moved to send the proposal for a final vote before the full quorum during the Faulkner County Quorum Court's regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Courtroom A of the Faulkner County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.