Burien City Council rejects contract extension, increased funding for CARES
[REPORTER’S NOTE: This story has been corrected for accuracy by deleting two earlier references to an outdated estimated cost to Burien if the city went with King County’s animal control program.]
If CARES – Burien’s privately run animal control program – gets any additional money to improve its services, the non-profit agency now must earn it through increased license sales and fund raising.
Those are the apparent options for CARES after Burien City Council members defeated on May 20 a proposal to increase program funding from $120,000 to $170,000 annually.
The proposal would also have extended by two years the agency’s contract with the city, which is scheduled to expire next year.
It died on a 3-3 vote with Deputy Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Council members Jack Block Jr. and Bob Edgar voting against the motion to increase funding and extend the contract.
Mayor Brian Bennett, Councilwoman Rose Clark, and Councilman Gerald Robison voted yes.
Councilwoman Joan McGilton, who had to leave the meeting earlier in the evening, was absent when the vote was taken. No one voting for the motion later changed their vote, which would have permitted them to move for a re-vote at the next meeting.
The proposal, which previously had been put on the council’s consent agenda, was removed at the request of Block with agreement from Krakowiak and Edgar.
Block objected to spending an additional $50,000 a year for animal control when “we have people that are still losing their houses, still having trouble making ends meet.”
He said that while his dogs “are very dear to me,” he was “concerned that we’re increasing funding for pet care rather than taking care of the basic needs of our citizens.”
Block favors a self-supporting city animal control program.
Krakowiak, who said little before the council’s vote, opposes the CARES contract for a different reason. She is an advocate for the city joining King County’s regional animal control program.
Robison countered that “self-supporting animal control is just not realistic in any scenario I’ve ever seen.”
He said CARES is “a pretty good pet care model” with “some wrinkles that came up in [a recent] audit” that can be corrected with adequate funding.
CARES – the Burien Community Animal Resource and Education Society – has been the source of controversy since it was organized three years ago, and the proposal to extend its contract with the city and increase funding by $50,000 a year proved to be equally controversial.
Some citizens have criticized CARES for not providing services for feral cats.
Others have agreed with Krakowiak that Burien should contract with Regional Animal Service of King County.
The county regional animal control district, of which Burien would be a part under such a contract, includes SeaTac, North Highline, Tukwila, Skyway, Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, Enumclaw and Vashon.
The county program includes an animal shelter in Kent, a veterinary clinic, and a licensing division. The county keeps licensing fee receipts, while in Burien this money goes to CARES.