June 30, 2012 in Washington Voices

Valley seeks animal control bids

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Map of this story's location

The Spokane Valley City Council agreed Tuesday to issue a request for proposals for the city’s animal control service, which is currently carried out by the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

Spokane County wants to buy a new building and create a regional animal shelter, which would increase Spokane Valley’s costs to cover its share of purchasing the building.

The plan will only work if both Spokane and Spokane Valley participate; Valley council members have balked at making a final decision without knowing if Spokane will go through with the deal. There were also several options with different prices presented by Spokane County, which increased the uncertainty.

Spokane County recently gave the city a draft interlocal agreement for animal control with a new finance option, said senior administrative analyst Morgan Koudelka. “The county has indicated this is the only option being presented,” he said.

The agreement would run for 20 years and costs would be fixed with an annual increase determined by the Consumer Price Index. There would be capital costs for 20 years, but that would go away if the agreement is renewed beyond the 20 years, Koudelka said. Using the CPI as an annual escalator is common in contracts and provides predictability, but it doesn’t account for the fact that the cost to provide services may drop, he said. The amount the city has been paying SCRAPS, which is currently based on usage, has dropped in recent years, Koudelka said.

City staff estimates that SpokAnimal might charge around $250,000 while SCRAPS’ costs would start at $287,000, he said. “We don’t know what SpokAnimal would come up with,” he said. “We don’t know what the structure would be.”

The city of Spokane has also announced that it will move ahead with a request for proposals, Koudelka said. Mayor Tom Towey said it would be a good idea for Spokane Valley to do the same. “I do feel like we don’t have enough information right now from SpokAnimal to make a decision,” he said.

Said Councilman Ben Wick, “The more information we gather, the better off we are.”

In other business, the council approved an interlocal agreement with Spokane County that will allow the city to build a multi-use trail on the old Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way south of Sprague Avenue. Councilman Arne Woodard cast the lone no vote. For years the city tried to get the county to transfer ownership of the land so the city could extend Appleway Boulevard, to no avail. The city already has plans to apply for a grant to build the trail between Evergreen and University roads. The agreement keeps open the option of using the corridor for a road or light rail in the future.

There were some concerns voiced about the city becoming responsible for maintenance of the property. “Approximately how much would that cost and where would we get the money for it?” Towey said.

City manager Mike Jackson said he thinks the minimum maintenance of cutting weeds and cleaning up garbage will cost about $7,500 for the rest of the year. Future maintenance costs will rise once a trail is constructed, particularly if landscaping is added, he said.

Business owner Susan Scott said her property backs up against the right-of-way and there are already problems with fires and vandalism there. “We see this as being an attractive nuisance,” she said. “Will we now have a four-mile-long back alley in our city?”

Scott said she was concerned that the trail would bring increased crime and said the city should keep the land available for the future extension of Appleway. “We don’t believe the public is aware of what you are doing here this evening,” she said.

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