September 10, 2011 in City

Verner says Spokane would pay its share upon joining SCRAPS

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Spokane doesn’t expect to burden its neighbors if it joins a regional animal control coalition, Mayor Mary Verner said Friday.

“There is no intention that we will be subsidized,” Verner said at a meeting of the Spokane Regional Council of Governments.

The possibility of a subsidy has been contentious, especially in Spokane Valley, which pays about 46 percent of Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service costs.

County Commissioner Todd Mielke said the strife springs from the fact that Spokane’s current animal control contractor, SpokAnimal C.A.R.E., tracks its activities differently than SCRAPS. An effort to reconcile the disparate data indicated Spokane’s annual share of SCRAPS costs would be $753,236.

However, Mielke said the calculation is suspect because it presumes Spokane would generate nearly 61 percent of the regional system’s workload even though it has only 45 to 46 percent of the county’s population.

“That would be like going to Spokane Valley and saying, ‘You’re 19 to 20 percent of the region’s population, but we’re going to make you pay 34 percent of the workload of SCRAPS, ’ ” Mielke said. “That just doesn’t pass the straight-face test.”

He said Spokane’s population-based share, based on last year’s costs, would be about $558,000.

Verner proposed in an Aug. 26 letter that the city’s bill be limited to $561,492 a year, plus its share of cost increases, for the duration of a property tax levy voters will be asked to approve in the Nov. 8 general election.

With Verner standing nearby, Mielke said Friday that he thought she meant, “Let us get a few years of real data, not speculative data, and we’ll come back to the table and make sure that everybody is paying their fair, proportionate share.”

Verner said Spokane would “commit our best efforts” if revenues fall short of projections.

“The city of Spokane will be a partner with you, and all of us collectively will determine how do we fix that gap,” Verner said.

Voters will be asked to authorize a levy up to 5.8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for a maximum of nine years – enough to build a new animal control shelter.

The proposal was drafted before the Spokane City Council voted to sell a city-owned warehouse that can be renovated for about two-thirds of the cost of new construction.

By using the city building at 1001 N. Havana St., Mielke said, commissioners probably will be able to reduce the levy to a little over 4 cents per $1,000, cancel it after six years, or some combination.

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