LETTER: City ‘should renegotiate their contract for animal control services with RASKC’

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

Dear Editor,

A proposal was made by City Manager, Mike Martin at the April 15, 2013 Burien City Council meeting to extend the contract to CARES until 2016. This extension would also give CARES an additional $50,000 per year and a 3% COLA to each of their three employees. Since CARES counts phone calls differently than RASKC, the number is highly inflated compared to other cities, something RASKC took into consideration when coming up with a cost for Burien to contract with them.

I believe that the City of Burien should renegotiate their contract for animal control services with RASKC (Regional Animal Services of King County). The City of SeaTac with a 2011 population of 27, 430 (Wikipedia) recently got a contract for animal control services from RASKC for $107,000 per year. The cost of a contract with RASKC is based on several factors: the number of calls received, the number of animal intakes, minus license fees, a percentage discount and a reduction shared by cities in the group (the most compelling factor in the reduction of fees). Apparently the City of Burien decided to break with RASKC before negotiations even began last time around. That’s how Burien ended up with CARES.

Since Burien’s contract with CARES expires in 2014, the timing is perfect for Burien to negotiate a contract with RASKC as its contract with the cities it serves is up for renegotiation at the same time. If Burien negotiates well with RASKC during this open contract time, it could have a contract with the county that offers so much more than CARES can ever hope to provide for less money. The people and the animals of Burien will be so much better cared for.

But what appears to be happening is that Mike Martin is trying to extend the contract with CARES to 2016 rather than opening it for bid in 2014, as should legally be done. Burien will then be locked out of being able to even consider a return to RASKC because they will have missed the negotiation date. Sitting at the negotiation table with RASKC does not mean that Burien must join RASKC, but it does make Burien eligible for the discounts should Burien want to return.

It is my belief, for the people and the animals of Burien, that the contract with CARES should be kept only until it expires in 2014. Then the contract should be open to a competitive bid process as required by state law. Burien should sit at the table during the RASKC negotiation process so that if RASKC can produce a better or more competitive bid for animal control services, Burien will qualify for all of the dicounts that SeaTac and other cities got the first time. According to the county, negotiations start now.

Thank you,
Marianne Hudson
Seattle, WA (formerly Area Y)

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13 Responses to “LETTER: City ‘should renegotiate their contract for animal control services with RASKC’”
  1. huh? says:

    Well stated Marianne.

    The Animal Control Contract that the City of Burien created and awarded is very limited; provides very few services or safety nets for the animals of Burien and is underfunded. It was written by people that do not understand the complexities of running an animal shelter.

    RASKC is the best choice for a full service, professional, experienced shelter (assuming that is what we citizens of Burien want),

  2. Laura Stiles says:

    Marianne, if you had been paying closer attention at the council meeting presentation, you would have heard Mike Martin’s assistant specifically state that RASKC did NOT use CARES phone call numbers when preparing their bid. They based their estimate on what Burien’s numbers were back when Burien contracted with King County, and the average number of calls (per thousand citizens) currently received by neighboring cities. Mike specifically stated that the bid offered by King County was accurate and what we would really have to pay. Which is WAY more than what CARES is contracted for, even if the additional $50K is added. Even if there were some negotiations involved with RASKC, I can’t see how their services could end up costing less. And while KC can offer certain extras based on their size, the reality is that they are covering a large area with a limited number of officers (who would not be all that familiar with Burien in particular), and their facility is not located right in Burien.

    • marianne says:

      Laura Stiles-
      Read the last sentence in the first paragraph of my letter.

      • Laura Stiles says:

        Marianne, yes that is the sentence I mean. It is poorly written and very unclear. To me it sounds like you’re saying KC used CARES’ phone call count to make their estimate, and that’s why you think it’s higher than we’d have to pay. If that’s not what you meant, then I have no idea why you even brought up CARES’ phone data, since there’s no further context in your comment.

      • huh? says:

        RASKC (potentially) costs more because they have a far more experienced staff and offer more basic, life saving, proven animal services and programs than the Burien Contract allows. These services are not ‘extra’, these services are standard in the animal sheltering world. Shelters that do not offer this baseline of services are considered sub-standard in the Sheltering world. The City of Burien wrote a sub-standard Contract. Why? My guess is because the authors know very little about Animal Sheltering, wanted to get by on the cheap and don’t really care about animals.

        If Burien Citizens are okay with a sub-standard Animal Services Contract, then it’s on the Citizens. If the Citizens are not okay with a sub-standard Animal Services Contract, then they need to stand up and demand change. The number one way is to vote out those who support this Contract. Demand transparency; attend the Council meetings–it’s your chance to voice your concerns and demands; write letters; get involved. The world is run by those that show up.

    • Marty says:

      Why is it being presented as a NO BID CONTRACT? Martin in all likelihood will not even be city manager in 2014 if we can vote out his cronies on the council this november.
      Martin refuses to negotiate with RASC or even let them give a presentation. I question the cronyism going on here with Debra George and Mike Martin.
      Martin does what is best for Mike Martin, NOT what is best for Burien and he has proven that time after time.

  3. umm! says:

    There is not former area Y…
    area Y is still area Y, the portion of North Highline that did not annex to Burien…if you cannot get the facts right about where you live, why should anyone believe anything else you say…

  4. May says:

    (((But what appears to be happening is that Mike Martin is trying to extend the contract with CARES to 2016 rather than opening it for bid in 2014, as should legally be done.)))

    ……Can you guys not see that we are dealing with scammers? I believe that CARES is a made up company to recieve funds from the public and government. 501 tax exempt.
    This is really comething…..and all hand selected by Mike Martin and Company.

  5. Feralcat says:

    REALLY umm?????

    Don’t you dare question her truthfulness.


  6. Flashdog says:

    Thank you, Marianne, for a clear, comprehensive, accurate explanation of what is going on. I, for one, greatly appreciate the time you spent researching and preparing this informative letter.

    I agree with huh?’s call to everyone to get involved. Even if you do not own or even like animals, animal control should be important to you. Animal control not only rescues homeless animals and restores lost animals to their owners, but a REAL animal control protects everyone from dangerous and nuisance animals.

    If you are a person who does care deeply about animals, visit the CARES “shelter” and take a good look around. It won’t take you long. It is small and dark and there is almost no staff. Then visit the RASKC shelter complex and ask for a tour. There is no comparison. At RASKC you will find two officers at the desk answering questions and helping people. Everything that occurs with every animal is IMMEDIATELY typed into Chameleon, the best available record keeping program for animal shelters. Volunteers are walking and playing with dogs. Shelter staff are feeding animals and cleaning cages. There is a special building just for cats. In the veterinary clinic, two veterinaries and a vet tech are tending to the needs of all animals that come in. Vet tech students are hurrying to their classes at the Pima Medical Institute’s building. A volunteer co-ordinator is finalizing schedules for long time voluneers and planning training classes for new ones. Notices are posted on the bulletin board about special adoption events and special free programs for the public, like the Pet Loss Support Group. There are information pamphlets about the many great services offered by RASKC — like the Barn Cat Program that places semi-wild cats with people who need cats to live on their farms and control rodents. Everything is clean and efficient and there is a general air of happiness and well being. It is a GENUINE animal shelter. In an article I read recently, Burien Councilwoman McGilton remarked that “a handful” of Burien citizens wanted to contract with RASKC. If she actually believes that, we should all work to remedy her confusion. I hope everyone will write to the Burien City Council about the absolute necessity of contracting with RASKC.

  7. Feralcat says:

    So here are some serious issues.

    I guess cares does NOT deal with barking nuisances. They say to talk to the neighbors. REALLY, UM sometimes neighbors are NOT really nice and could be dangerous.

    So then what is that person supposed to do, can’t call 911 as it is not emergency….but it is an issue for the person having the issue, what if the dog is being neglected? One would have to go out there and assess the situation. OH yeah cares doesn’t do that. RASKC does!!!!

    Yes Flashdog you and Marianne are spot on all counts.

    AS for Joan McGilton she made herself look like an idiot. Really, you went way off the deep end on worrying about how many animal control officers it would have to go to Vashon Island (if there was an emergency)if it required to 2 of them, and yet RASKC could still have back up, cares has NOTHING.

    So if the UNTRAINED “animal control” officer of cares gets injured, Burien citizens have NO back up. Even more laughable he got denied,(yes i know he got accepted with some help FYI) so when he does go to training who is going to be our animal control officer, um debra. hahahahaha

    Sadly even I know all this bitching won’t do anything other than make people think about NOT only this issue but other city issues that mike martian has screwed up when the elections come up.


  8. May says:

    huh?…..((((It was written by people that do not understand the complexities of running an animal shelter. )))))

    They do know how to run a animal shelter and it is not to complicated for them. Here is what you do…First you hire your friends, then create a so called shelter, then apply for 501 tax exempt, then lobby for federal funds with the help of ther friends, then you raise the rates and ask for more money. Then make up documents with the help of your friends to extend their so called “contract”. And here you go…its so simple and slick. Oh, this is their interpretation of how to run a shelter and their pocked book.

  9. Fred says:

    I highly doubt that CARES will be able to make the improvements it needs immediately for the $50,000 this year. It needs to put on a second animal control officer, train both of the animal control officiers, correct the problems with the quarantine room and the ventilation problems in the shelter, train the staff to handle vicious animals. In addition, CARES needs to train the staff on health and safety issues and teach them to run the computer data system, and log donations correctly. According to the Evaluator’s report, Debra George takes no salary and has a vehicle that belongs to her serving CARES. So if she gets sick, leaves the area or runs out of money, who is going to operate and feed personal time and money into CARES to keep this shoestring operation afloat?

    This is a short term fix and then Burien will have to keep escalating the amount of money that It pumps into CARES because it still will not meet the items noted as the Evaluator mentioned such as; taking in cats and attending to their needs, writing a policy for serving cats, training someone to do assessments of animal personalities for adoption purposes, training staff to vaccinate, providing community education,etc. Thank you Marianne for writing this article. CARES was never a qualified bifdder on this contract and should never have been awarded the city contract. Mike Martin pushed for Debra George to have this contract because she was a personal friend of his but unqualified. And the city is still on the hook in a lawsuit for having adopted out vicious dogs.

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