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Spokane Valley weighs animal-control proposals from SCRAPS, SpokAnimal

The Spokane Valley City Council took another run at a familiar topic Tuesday – animal control.

Spokane County is trying to put together a new regional animal shelter under the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service with a new shelter to replace the aging facility on Flora Road. Meanwhile, the city recently put out a request for proposals for animal control services and received them from SCRAPS and SpokAnimal.

Currently SpokAnimal provides animal control for Spokane and SCRAPS provides it for Spokane Valley. SCRAPS has a larger facility with 30 more dog cages than SpokAnimal. Both are proposing that costs would increase annually with the consumer price index. The starting point would be $250,000 a year for SpokAnimal and $295,691 for SCRAPS, which includes the cost of a new building. Both those prices assume that Spokane Valley and Spokane pick the same provider.

Senior administrative analyst Morgan Koudelka presented a comparison of the two proposals, which included information on adoption programs, ability to enforce animal regulations, professionalism and level of service.

Councilman Chuck Hafner asked why the summary included a statement that Spokane County has been dealing with budget cuts. “What does that have to do with the city of Spokane Valley?” he said.

Koudelka said he was looking for financial stability in order to ensure that no one was going bankrupt. “Are you alluding to that?” Hafner said. “No,” Koudelka replied.

Hafner also asked why the summary indicated that SCRAPS officers are required to have two years of experience working with animals but did not include a similar statement about SpokAnimal officers. “There is not an indication that requirement exists in SpokAnimal,” he said. “However, a lot of them there do (have experience).”

Councilman Arne Woodard said that costs have been dropping steadily in recent years under SCRAPS. “Cost isn’t the only thing in this,” he said.

Councilman Dean Grafos said he was concerned that SpokAnimal’s last audit was in 2008 and in 2011 they spent more than they took in. “If you’re expanding a facility, a service, you need cash flow,” he said. “The size of the facility is a concern.”

Several council members asked for copies of the complete proposals so they could read them before making a decision. “The devil’s in the details,” Hafner said. “I don’t care for summaries.”

“You’re asking us to make a 20-year decision,” Grafos said.

The council plans to discuss the issue again at its Aug. 21 council meeting.

In other business, the council discussed whether to buy iPads for the council members and department directors. They would cost $500 each with Wi-Fi only or $630 each with Wi-Fi and 4G cellular access. The annual cost of cell service for one iPad would be about $492, said IT specialist Greg Bingaman.

The cost gave several council members pause. The city is only one year into a three-year lease on its computers, said Grafos. “The first year you’re talking about $16,000,” he said. “I can see that if you’re one of the directors. I don’t have a problem with that.”

But Grafos said he doesn’t believe council members need the devices. “Personally I would not accept mine,” he said. “I think it’s a waste of taxpayer money.”

After some discussion the council agreed to have staff look into whether the purchase would save the city money in the long run by replacing the computers. “If it’s a cost savings, let’s pursue it,” said Councilwoman Brenda Grassel.

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