The above map shows the outcome of Spokane County Proposition 1, which was rejected overwhelmingly in the November election. (Map by Jim Camden.)
The rejection county voters gave last month to a tax for a new animal shelter led the Spokane City Council on Monday to stick with SpokAnimal C.A.R.E.
The council voted unanimously to approve a two-year contract to pay the nonprofit group about $753,000 a year to continue to handle animal control services within city limits. The contract is an increase of about 3.4 percent from the amount the city will pay the group in 2011. SpokAnimal will continue to return a portion of dog and cat license fees to the city, about $200,000 each year.
Most Spokane council members, Mayor Mary Verner and Mayor-elect David Condon supported the proposed county tax that would have paid to build a new county shelter that would have allowed the city to join a regional system and end its relationship with SpokAnimal. SpokAnimal officials had informed the city a few years ago that it no longer wanted the contract but later changed its mind and campaigned against the county shelter proposal.
City Councilman Steve Corker, like most council members, said without the ability to join the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Agency, a contract with SpokAnimal is the city's only choice. About 56 percent of voters rejected the tax plan, which would have cost 5.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for a maximum of nine years
“I still think that a county-wide approach is the best option,” Corker said. “But I don't think the voters are prepared to pass any bond in this economy.”
Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she likes that the contract allows each party to end it with a year's notice because it gives the incoming Condon a chance to help determine the future of animal control.
When the county offered a long-term deal to join the county's animal control system in preparation for the ballot proposal, SpokAnimal offered their own.
Gail Mackie, executive director of SpokAnimal, said SpokAnimal's board accepts the shorter deal but will work to have a 10-year deal in place when the new two-year contract expires.
“We're really glad to have this contract finished prior to the end of the year,” she said.
City Councilman Bob Apple, who opposed the county tax proposal, said the city should have worked toward having a 10-year deal in place starting next year.
“That's what the people directed when they turned down the SCRAPS (county) proposal,” Apple said.