UPDATE: Burien City Council adds $50,000 and two years to CARES contract
Burien City Council members voted 4-3 at their July 15 meeting to increase by $50,000 annually the amount paid to CARES for animal care and control services.
The action also extended the city’s contract with CARES – the non-profit Community Animal Resource Education Society – by two years to Aug. 31, 2016.
The contentious issue – which was pulled once again from the meeting’s consent agenda – was approved after a brief debate.
Mayor Brian Bennett and Council members Rose Clark, Joan McGilton and Gerald Robison voted for the CARES amendments.
Deputy Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Council members Jack Block Jr. and Bob Edgar voted no.
Block, who at an earlier meeting had asked that the CARES contract issue be taken off the consent agenda, made the same request at Monday’s meeting. Again Krakowiak and Edgar supported him. Only three council members are needed to make an agenda change.
At that earlier meeting, McGilton had had to leave before the council considered the CARES contract, which had been moved to the bottom of the agenda. The motion to add to the current contract died on a 3-3 vote.
This time debate was brief. Block repeated his challenge to increasing the city’s cost for animal control services by $50,000. The program should be self-supporting, he argued, and the money could better be used for human services.
Block also suggested that Burien would be better served by an animal control officer who was part of the police department, as is the case in Des Moines.
But Clark, who praised the work done by CARES in its first two years, asked Block how many cities he was aware where animal control services were completely self-supporting. None, she noted. He countered by asking why Burien can’t try to be the first city to do so.
McGilton noted there can be risks when a police department is responsible for animal control, citing the shooting death of Rosie the Newfoundland in Des Moines. That city eventually had to pay damages to Rosie’s owners.
And Robison, who said he thought CARES is doing a good job, added his opposition to paying a lot more to King County for animal control while getting a lot less in service.
The amended contract requires CARES to:
- Rehabilitate and restore to health animals that have been injured, neglected or abused beyond basic care needed to stabilize an animal during the impound period.
- Remove dead animals in city roadways and rights-of-way, including domestic and wild animals. Dead animal removal previously had been the responsibility of the Public Works Department.
- Respond to complaints or incidents involving wild animals that threaten public safety and notify the State Department of Fish and Wildlife when necessary.
- Designate an available back-up Animal Control Officer.
- Train a staff person in animal behavior to help determine when an animal should be euthanized.
- Train of staff to ensure accurate data entry and program management.
Burien began contracting with CARES in June 2011, a year after deciding not to continue with Regional Animal Services of King County, which had substantially changed its operations and increased its costs to member cities.
At an April 15 city council meeting, King County representatives confirmed that Burien’s 2013 net cost would be about $332,000 with their program – compared to $170,000 annually under the revised contract.
Unlike partnering with King County, the city also keeps its pet licensing revenue. According to the city, this lowers the actual cost of the CARES contract to $100,000.
The proposal to increase funding for CARES came after an audit of CARES conducted by an independent animal control expert, Denise McVicker, Deputy Director of the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County.
McVicker found that CARES meets public safety needs in terms of animal control and is fulfilling its contract obligations to the city, but she recommended a number of improvements that required additional funding.
In amending the CARES contract, the Council also required the CARES shelter at 909 SW 151th Street add a sink and dishwater, instal ventilation, build a vaccination room, and buy uniforms and badges for staff.