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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

County, Valley look at Spokane-less deals

Pair would share costs of waste system, pet home

Spokane County and Spokane Valley officials wondered Wednesday what their kennel would look like with only two big dogs.

They agreed it’s time to start planning a solid-waste system that doesn’t include the city of Spokane, but stopped short of scuttling a ballot measure to build a regional animal shelter.

Spokane Valley and unincorporated Spokane County together are roughly the equal of Spokane, populationwise.

Spokane Valley Councilman Arne Woodard said if Spokane doesn’t join a new regional solid waste alliance, “there’re two big dogs left.”

Spokane Valley council members and county commissioners seemed to agree in a joint meeting Wednesday that they could get along without Spokane in a new solid waste system. They weren’t so sure about animal control.

The group growled fiercely, if impotently, at Spokane Mayor Mary Verner’s insistence on a nine-year subsidy for joining the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

“Why subsidize them if they really don’t have any choice?” Spokane Valley Councilwoman Brenda Grassel asked, questioning the viability of Spokane’s continuing service from SpokAnimal CARE.

Commissioners offered to cancel a ballot measure to build a new shelter, but all five Spokane Valley council members at the meeting said the Nov. 8 vote should proceed. They called for continued negotiations to ensure that Spokane will eventually pay its full share of SCRAPS costs.

It didn’t help that a year-old error, discovered during Wednesday’s meeting, revealed that projected savings from broadening the SCRAPS coalition would be less than expected. However Commissioner Todd Mielke said there would be no savings without Spokane.

Also, Mielke noted Spokane has two strong levers. The city owns a building that could reduce the cost of a new shelter by one-third, and it would be difficult to get Spokane residents to vote for a countywide property tax levy without city leaders’ support.

Spokane’s participation would generate an estimated $246,134-a-year economy of scale and the proposed subsidy would soak up $191,744.

Revised calculations showed Spokane County’s savings would be reduced to $26,842 and Spokane Valley’s to $25,106. Millwood would save $480; Cheney, $1,078; and Liberty Lake, $883.