No one said a word when the Spokane City Council spent nearly $2 million on routine business items Monday.
But the letter “s” sparked more than an hour’s debate.
The council unanimously approved a $97,500 contract with SpokAnimal C.A.R.E. to provide free spay and neuter services for residents’ pets. SpokAnimal won’t do the sterilizations but will contract with 11 veterinary clinics.
Former Councilwoman Margaret Leonard said allowing several “clinics” instead of one “clinic” to perform the surgeries violates the ballot initiative approved by voters last fall.
The measure calls for one-tenth of 1 percent of the city’s general fund to go to spaying and neutering house pets.
“It doesn’t say ‘clinics,”’ Leonard said. “It said ‘clinic.”’ “There’s a big difference between an ‘s’ on the end of a word and no ‘s,”’ said resident Kelly Tansy.
Leonard and others argued one clinic could sterilize more animals at lower cost than several clinics.
City Attorney Jim Sloane said the city has complied with the initiative’s requirements, adding that having 11 clinics spread across town makes the program more convenient.
The city received only two bids for the contract. It chose the higher bidder because of concerns the low bidder would do too many sterilizations too quickly.
“There are only so many corners you can cut before you start to risk the health of the very animals you’re trying to help,” said Linda Wood, a veterinarian who served on the bid selection committee.
Also Monday, the council approved a system of civil fines allowing city departments to penalize people who violate the municipal code.
The city decriminalized much of its code in the mid-1980s, leaving many departments unable to punish offenders.
Fines range from $25 to $250 and can be levied for a variety of offenses ranging from cheating consumers to harboring excessive animals.