There were no surprises Tuesday as the Spokane Valley City Council voted to start a new, 20-year animal control contract with the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.
The council appeared pleased that the contract was complete after more than a year of discussion and negotiation. “I’m glad we’re coming down to a vote on an agreement,” said Councilman Arne Woodard. The contract is good for citizens and will provide the city long-term predictability, he said.
Woodard thanked SCRAPS director Nancy Hill for continually reducing the amount the city has been paying for animal control in recent years. “I’d like to see that go to zero, Nancy, but I don’t know that it will happen in your lifetime or mine.”
Councilman Gary Schimmels said SCRAPS has been running a “smooth operation.” “The costs are fair,” he said.
The contract approved unanimously Tuesday had several changes from the initial proposal made by Spokane County. The automatic annual price increase is gone. The city will pay a fixed amount every year for capital costs. A new board of directors will make recommendations to county commissioners on SCRAPS’ annual budget and the amount to be charged to the city. Any increases will be capped at the annual consumer price index increase.
The board will include two representatives from the city, two from the county and one member jointly appointed. The city of Spokane, which is expected to approve its own contract with SCRAPS this month, has said it doesn’t want to participate in the board, said senior administrative analyst Morgan Koudelka.
Spokane did ask for some additions to the contract that call for an annual report and monthly activity reports, Koudelka said. “It defines performance measures,” he said.
Sections that address citizen complaints, service goals and standards were also added. “It adds to the quality of the contract,” Koudelka said.
Spokane County hopes to have a new regional animal control facility up and running by the beginning of 2014, he said.
“This contract has come a long way since we started,” said Councilman Ben Wick.
In other business, the council unanimously approved the procedure for replacing former Councilwoman Brenda Grassel, who resigned her seat when she moved outside the city limits. Applications are due by Friday and the council will have an executive session to review the applications Tuesday. The council will vote on which applicants to interview that same night during the normal council meeting. Interviews are scheduled for the Jan. 29 council meeting with the appointment of a new council member scheduled for the Feb. 5 meeting.
Mayor Tom Towey awarded Grassel a plaque in recognition for her service. “I’m really, really sorry to see this one leave,” Towey said. “She has been a steady voice of the people for the last three years.”
Grassel exchanged handshakes and hugs with Towey and the other council members after she accepted the award. “I just enjoyed working with each of you so much,” she said.