With the city of Spokane now on board as a willing partner, now SCRAPS is hoping area voters will throw it a bone in November.
At last Friday’s meeting of the Spokane Regional Council of Governments – which got a kick start at the opening of the Spokane County Interstate Fair – Spokane Mayor Mary Verner stood by as county Commissioner Todd Mielke explained to local government representatives that every effort has already been make to refurbish the 40-year-old Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service headquarters near Spokane International Park.
“We’ve attempted to Band-Aid and bale-wire this facility,” Mielke said, adding that the aging facility was last renovated in 1972 and that access is a continued problem due to a pair of nearby rail lines. “It’s literally on the wrong side of the tracks.”
The city of Spokane is also facing an upcoming animal-control crisis: its contract with SpokAnimal is also soon ending. A regional approach, Mielke said, has been long seen as a cost-saving way of approaching the issue while also possibly improving service to constituents.
“Ideally, we can achieve at least one of those goals,” he told representatives of the various jurisdictions in attendance.
Spokane Valley officials have been in theory supportive of the regional approach and asking voters to do their part by supporting a levy request of 5.8 cents per $1,000 assessed value – at a cost of about $1 a month for the owner of a $200,000 home -- that would not last longer than nine years. That would pay for the cost of renovating a Spokane-owned warehouse at 1001 N. Havana, located near the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, which would be accessible by Spokane Transit Authority and more easily located by the public. They have been leery, however, of possibly subsidizing the city of Spokane in the partnership.
That, however, won’t be the case, Verner promised.
“The city of Spokane will be a partner with you, and all of us collectively will determine how to fix that gap,” she said.
It’s been estimated that, due to Spokane’s population, it would pay about $558,000 annually for animal control from SCRAPS. Verner has said she hopes that number is limited to $561,492 annually for the duration of the levy to keep costs in line with what Spokane is paying now.
Mielke said, however, that it’s possible to recalculate the amount that all the partnering jurisdictions pay as time goes on based on “real costs.”
The city of Spokane Valley currently pays about 46 percent of SCRAPS annual costs. Unincorporated Spokane County and other partnering municipalities make up the rest.
Mielke said that if the levy – which needs just a simple majority to pass – fails, the need for a revamped SCRAPS headquarters will not go away. Instead, the existing partners of Spokane County, Spokane Valley, Millwood, Cheney and Liberty Lake would have to divide up the $7 million to $10 million replacement cost.