February 26, 2011 in City

Spokane council split on joining county animal control

By The Spokesman-Review
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Spokane is not ready to sign off on a proposal for a regional animal-control shelter, City Council President Joe Shogan said Friday at a meeting of local governments.

Shogan said the council is divided on whether to stick with Mayor Mary Verner’s plan to contract with the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service or try to renew the city’s contract with SpokAnimal C.A.R.E.

SpokAnimal gave notice it wanted to get out of the animal-control business, but Executive Director Gail Mackie said the organization is willing to extend its contract.

Shogan said he thinks a regional task force, which includes Spokane, did an “excellent job” of crafting a proposal to turn a city-owned warehouse into a new SCRAPS shelter.

However, Shogan said, “We need more time among ourselves to come to a conclusion.”

He suggested aiming for a ballot measure in the fall of 2012, after competing measures such as a new county jail and a possible Spokane library levy are resolved.

Officials say the project could be paid for with a nine-year increase of 4 to 5 cents in Spokane County’s property tax rate. The cost would be $8 to $10 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home.

Unlike a bond measure, a lid lift would require only a simple majority. But Spokane residents would have no incentive to vote for it if the city doesn’t contract with SCRAPS.

Mielke called for Spokane and cities that contract with SCRAPS to tell commissioners whether they like the task force plan to establish a new shelter in a warehouse at 1001 N. Havana St.

Spokane acquired the property as part of a project to build a Havana Street railroad overpass. State and federal agencies paid 85 percent of the $2.7 million cost and expect reimbursement for any residual value.

SCRAPS director Nancy Hill says the building’s size, configuration and location – across from the county fairgrounds – are ideal for a shelter. Also, the building could be acquired and converted for an estimated $10 million, compared with $15 million for new construction.

Mielke and Hill said the current SCRAPS shelter at 2521 N. Flora Road is overcrowded and needs to be replaced even if Spokane doesn’t contract with the county.

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