By Jack Mayne The big news from Monday night’s (June 6) meeting was the discussion to give CARES a new and extended contract through 2017, or to return animal control to King County animal control. To loud cheers and applause, the Burien City Council made the decision early in a meeting that ended up going on for nearly four hours – well beyond the normal three hours. The Council – at the behest of some members – moved the CARES debate from the end of the meeting to near the beginning. The Council ended up going well past its normal 10 p.m. stopping time as it discussed potential future budget items. The Council voted 4 to 3 to extend the contract from its current expiration date of Aug. 31 to the end of 2017. Voting for the extension with certain specifics outlined in its motion was Councilmembers Stephen Armstrong, joined by motion sponsor Nancy Tosta, Austin Bell and Lauren Berkowitz (via telephone). Opposing the CARES contract extension were Mayor Lucy Krakowiak, Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar and Debi Wagner. Parade of CARES supporters Prior to the vote, there was an hour-plus of listening to a parade of local and area residents, most of whom supported CARES, again giving high praise to the local non-profit animal care agency as they had at earlier sessions on the subject. It was noted by several people that CARES is in Burien covering only the city limits, while the county agency must huge areas of the entire county. Others noted the much higher costs of King County and dismissed some people who suggested the county cost would be lower with rebates granted to members of their consortium. There were those who also cautioned that leaving CARES would effectively end the agency’s need for existence so that if a later decision to leave King County were taken, there would be no CARES left to return to. After the public comments, Councilmember Tosta moved and the Council approved a motion that the city staff negotiated a CARES contract “to not to exceed $240,000,” with quarterly reporting of services “rendered based on accurate recording of calls and responses.” The contract is to be for the first time directly overseen by the city’s economic development manager, Dan Trimble. A lower level policy analyst had administered the previous contract. CARES requirements The Council also specified that within three months the city is to finance a review of CARES to be conducted by an outside veterinarian to identify needed improvements, if any and then CARES “will make needed improvements by January 2017.” The animal control agency will also “develop an estimate for 2018 services and beyond.” The Council and city staff will continue to work with King County “for an estimate for 2018 no later than Nov. 2017,” said Tosta’s motion. “We have heard a tremendous amout of community support, that is part of my rationale,” but noted the Council has the responsibility to “provide what services we need and we cannot be without animal services,” Tosta said. “I strongly support continued services with CARES.” Armstrong said he “strongly supports” continuing the CARES contract and wished it could go further than the end of 2017 and if there are concerns, “let’s bring them out.” Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, again speaking by telephone as she has since the birth of her child in January, said she supported CARES and lauded the support of Burien citizens and was willing to keep CARES until she gets the financial and other information she would need for a further extension. “CARES is significantly cheaper than RASKC (Regional Animal Service of King County),” she said, adding she did not like contracting out city services of private companies, but what she was basing her decision on to support the contract extension was short-term and any further extension past December 2017 or award to King County would require much more information, she said. Berkowitz said she was also concerned about losing a local shelter and wanted to know the cost of King County handling animal control and CARES keep its shelter in operation. Councilmember Bell said he supported retaining CARES. “Whatever it takes, let’s save CARES,” he said. Opposed CARES But the other three members opposed keeping the homegrown CARES. Councilmember Debi Wagner said she could not support giving more money to CARES. “I don’t know how the money they are getting now is being spent,” Wagner said, and “who is being paid what.” Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar said he is “still not pleased with the behind the scenes operating and bookkeeping that the city has been getting from CARES for the last five years” that makes it difficult to compare one year with another so he said he was not in favor of extending the contract. Mayor Krakowiak said she was basing her decision on her interactions with citizens and she has concerns, “so at this time, I am not prepared to support the motion.” CassidyCertificate Cassidy Huff honored as 2016 “Citizen of the Year” The Burien City Council at a special pre-meeting ceremony Monday night presented its 2016 “Citizen of the Year” to 13-year old Cassidy Huff, who had been unanimously chosen for the honor by a 7-0 vote. Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Highline School District Superintendent Susan Enfield presented her with a proclamation: [youtube][/youtube] CassidyCouncil1Cassidy is a special needs student at Sylvester Middle School, as well as a regular columnist for The B-Town Blog (read her work here). She has undergone 36 surgeries, the latest on Mar. 22. Enfield said Cassidy has “fast become of my favorite people and a role model for me.” The superintendent said she had first met Cassidy two years ago at a presentation and then asked Enfield to mentor her. “It started with a lunch and over the years we have gotten to know each other pretty well” and the presentation to Cassidy is “one of the proudest days,” Enfield said, because she represents not just the best of the school district but of the community. “Cassidy I just could not be more proud of you and thank you for being a role model for all of us.” “You are the hero of your own story and you can do anything you set your mind to,” said Cassidy. She thanked the Council for “this incredible award and also like to thank my friends and family for encouraging me no matter what.”