October 13, 2011 in Washington Voices

Spokane Valley critical of Spokane’s stand on regional animal shelter

Council says it won’t subsidize city of Spokane; prefers to pay for actual services provided
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The city of Spokane Valley is not interested in subsidizing the city of Spokane in a regional animal shelter, the City Council said Tuesday. The council agreed to send a letter to Spokane County announcing its reluctance.

Discussions have been under way for months about making the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service the animal control authority for the entire county and moving the shelter near the Spokane County Fairgrounds. The city of Spokane has said it is interested in joining, but only if its annual animal control cost of $561,000 does not change. Current estimates put Spokane’s share of the regional effort at $667,000, which would require the other cities in the agreement to make up the difference.

Mayor Tom Towey said the city already contracts with SCRAPS and the contract stipulates that one jurisdiction can’t subsidize another. “We could actually say the same thing the city of Spokane is,” Towey said. “Spokane did it to protect their expenditures.”

Spokane Valley senior administrative analyst Morgan Koudelka said Spokane Valley has always paid for actual services provided, not an estimate or share of the total. “We have no problem paying our fair share,” he said.

Councilman Bill Gothmann said he preferred to pay for only the services the city uses. “It seems to me that it is a fairer way to go into it,” he said.

In other business, a divided council approved the first reading of the much-edited Bike and Pedestrian Master Program. Council members went through the plan section by section and removed words such as “ensure” and replaced them with “encourage.” Many of the editing suggestions came from councilman Arne Woodard, who voted against moving the plan forward.

“I’m still not comfortable with it being in the Comprehensive Plan,” he said. “It’s not required to be in the Comp Plan.” He said he doesn’t object to the city putting in bike lanes as part of grant projects, but thinks the plan gives short shrift to sidewalks. “I apologize that I’m being a bear on this. I just can’t support putting this in the Comp Plan.”

There are benefits to including the bike and pedestrian plan in the Comprehensive Plan, said senior planner Mike Basinger. The Comprehensive Plan is the “city’s guiding document” and people look to it for the city’s goals and policies, he said. When the city applies for road construction grants that include bike lanes, there is always a section of the application that asks if it is in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. “We like to be able to check that off,” Basinger said.

“It’s harder to remove it than it is to put in place,” Woodard said. “I just have a problem with it being codified.”

“The Comprehensive plan is a plan,” said Gothmann. “It is not associated with regulations. There’s a difference between a plan and a law. Where else would you put a plan but in a plan? It is supposed to be guidelines the council has agreed upon to set the direction for the community.”

Councilman Chuck Hafner said the proposed plan seems very complex. “I’m not sure our community is going to understand this,” he said.

“I look at it maybe a little bit differently,” said councilman Dean Grafos. “I think it is an economic value to our city. I really think it’s in the best interests of our city to have it in our Comp Plan.”

Council members Gothmann, Towey, Grafos and Gary Schimmels voted to advance the plan to a second reading. Council members Woodard and Hafner voted against it and councilwoman Brenda Grassel was absent.

Tuesday’s meeting included a public hearing on the proposed 2012 budget, but no one from the public commented. Grafos said he would like to add some projects to the budget, including stormwater work on the one-way section of Sprague Avenue. “I agree that would be a priority on my radar screen as well,” said Woodard.

Gothmann said the council would need to get a cost estimate from city staff first. “I don’t have a problem with doing it,” he said. “I think it’s a great project.”

“Right now I think we’re concentrating on the Sullivan Bridge,” said Towey, referencing the city’s attempt to shore up the failing bridge so weight restrictions can be removed.

City Manager Mike Jackson said the council can always add projects to the budget at a later date.


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