Thursday, September 1, 2011

Animal control collaboration hits bumps in the Valley

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 1:26 PM

When we reported on regional collaboration for animal control in this week's Inlander, Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke was optimistic that local municipal leaders could agree on the subject.  “Of all the issues that are out there, the one that looks so easy to do is animal control,” he said. “Animals know no boundaries.”

But now, according to an article in today's Spokesman, that cooperation appears to be in jeopardy.

Some background: SCRAPS is on board to be the region's dogcatcher. But it needs a new facility. It turns out that Spokane owns the perfect building, something it bought for its rehab of Havana Street. In the works is a a ballot measure in which the county's taxpayers would purchase the building from Spokane, renovate it into a animal facility and eveything's cool. Right?

Spokane Valley is OK with a putting a levy on the November ballot. But some Valley Council members are complaining that it would mean their city and the county is subsidizing a lower rate for Spokane's animal control. 

That's because the city’s contribution will be limited to $561,000, plus inflation, for the next nine years — far below what SCRAPS says the city should pay. Some Valley Council members are concerned that the city won't be paying its fair share.

"Why subsidize them if they really don’t have any choice?” Spokane Valley Councilwoman Brenda Grassel is quoted as saying in the Spokesman.

Mielke maintains that a partnership with the city would still save the Valley money. Plus, having city leaders on board would be a big boon for two reason. One, buying the building from the city would be a third cheaper than any other option. And, city voters would be more willing to vote for the levy if city leaders give a thumbs up.

Now if only Mielke could convince the Valley's leaders.

Mayor Mary Verner and Mielke will discuss animal control collaboration questions at a press conference at 3:30 pm today in front of the courthouse.

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