NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — The city is expected to proceed with building and opening a new animal shelter by the end of the year after officials recently agreed on a plan to cut the project’s cost by $515,500.Construction on the $3.66 million, 10,303-square-foot complex is expected to begin in February on city-owned land at Dick Fisher Drive North and Iron Horse Boulevard.The 10 bids for the project ranged from $3.95 million to $4.96 million, at least $1 million more than budgeted. The bid that the bid evaluation committee liked the best was about $4.17 million from Modern Contractors of Bedford because it offered the best value, city officials said.After agreeing to “value engineering,” city officials and Modern cut the price to $3.66 million. Changes included substituting metal for wood in the front door portico. They also substituted metal for wood in part of the fence for the outdoor “get-to-know-you” area, where potential owners spend time with a dog. In addition, city employees will do some of the work.The council voted 6-1 on Jan. 13, with Councilwoman Rita Oujesky casting the dissenting vote, to approve the contract with Modern.When the current 6,700-square-foot shelter was built in 1987, North Richland Hills’ population was about 40,000, city officials said. The city’s population has since grown by 60 percent to about 64,000 residents. The city’s population is estimated to increase to about 77,000 by the time all the residential land available is developed.The shelter was designed to house 96 animals, though it houses 110 animals on average. The new center will house 145 animals.Voters approved $1.3 million in bonds in 2003, with the expectation that the rest of what was expected to be a $3.4 million project could be raised through donations and fund-raisers. Only about $900,000 has been raised through direct donations and voluntary public project contributions through water bills. A few years ago, the City Council approved another $1.2 million, City Manager Mark Hindman said.In addition to construction costs, the city must pay for architectural fees and furniture, fixtures and equipment, said Police Chief Jimmy Perdue, who oversees some city construction projects. The project’s total cost will reach about $4.3 million, Perdue said.To cover the additional $1 million needed, Hindman said $700,000 can be pulled from a “capital” account set aside for city projects. Another $300,000 could be raised through the sale of bonds without increasing the tax rate, he said.Oujesky said she objects to having the city exceed its present allocation for the animal shelter.“I’m concerned about spending money we don’t have in the budget for this,” Oujesky said.Other council members said that the city has waited far too long to build the center and that costs will most likely increase. Councilman Scott Turnage said that residents told the city that they want this project when they approved the bond in 2003.“It’s kind of a tough pill to swallow, but it’s what we need to do,” Turnage said.