Bouffiou +Debra George Sean Bouffiou of King County, along with Debra George of CARES at Monday night’s Burien City Council study session.[/caption] By Jack Mayne It was virtually “a pep rally for CARES” at Monday night’s Burien City Council study session, with some Councilmembers ready to vote a new contract immediately, but it was slated for a formal vote at the next regular meeting. Even with a presentation from Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC), many Burien citizens and an apparent majority of the Council (on May 23) seemed ready to support a new CARES contract. It would cost Burien taxpayers nearly a half million dollars more to switch animal control to King County for 16 months from the August 31 end of the current contract the city has with CARES, or Community Animal Resource and Education Society. The Council faces a decision to renegotiate or extend the CARES contract, negotiate a new one with King County, or drop all animal control service, which is not required under Washington State law. No brainer, slam-dunk The CARES contract expires Aug. 31, and the Council voted against extending the pact until the end of next January. Councilmember Nancy Tosta said she was a strong advocate for CARES and that she intended at the June 6 meeting to ask the Council to retract its earlier move to not extend the organization’s contract to the end of January 2017. She suggested the Council consider a longer-term contract for CARES because it was doing so much for the community. Councilmember Steve Armstrong said the extension “is a no brainer, a slam dunk.” He said he liked the passion that CARES Director Debra George has brought into the organization and that he would support an even longer contract than the proposed two-year pact. “CARES is cool, its Burien,” Armstrong said and noted the King County bid was over $300,000 higher. He said he wanted to extend the CARES contract for three or four years and “get the issue done.” “I have never seen such an overwhelming support for it,” he said. “I don’t understand the opposition.” But Councilmember Wagner said she thought discussions with the county could end with a contract “for less money than we are paying CARES for a high quality service we can depend on.” She said she has seen several cities paying less than the amount the County has proposed, likely because cities are able to negotiate rebates and other financial benefits once they are a member of the county consortium. [caption id="attachment_100102" align="alignleft" width="200"]Krakowiak Mayor Lucy Krakowiak[/caption] Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said she agreed with negotiations for a new contract in 2018 and the costs would be competitive and much less than the current proposal and that she would prefer King County over CARES. Need accurate data Tosta said she wanted to hear of any concerns about CARES from other Councilmembers, and Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar said, “I do have a concern. There has been a history, in my estimation, that we haven’t been getting consistent, accurate data” on how the organization has been run. CARES Director George said she understand the concern but “we give the city what they are asking for,” adding her staff can work with the city to meet the concerns of the Council. Councilmember Austin Bell thanked the county for being at the meeting but “we are lucky to have an organization like CARES.” He said the city may be able to pay CARES more and get additional services “and potentially still be paying less than if we switched to the county.” He suggested extending the contract through the end of the year “at a minimum.” Others supported a 16-month contract, from Aug. 31 to Dec. 31, 2017. Only CARES or County There are no other potential providers of animal services besides the county and CARES and it estimated their cost for 16 months of animal services would be $239,376, with the city retaining all net license fees and all fines of about $73,000 – which brings the CARES net cost to $166,000. King County’s cost of $448,000 for a 16-month contract, before potential rebates are considered, which would not be considered without the endorsement of a majority of other cities that are members of the group using county animal services. [caption id="attachment_100105" align="alignright" width="200"]John Upthegrove John Upthegrove[/caption] “Why are having this conversation?” said resident John Upthegrove, referring to the vast cost difference. Later he suggested the conversation was simply a political one between segments of the Council and urged it be extended through 2018 with a 10 percent raise “to help them out.” Retired entrepreneur John White said King County would “be nice, but we just can’t afford it,” as he urged the Council to extend CARES’ contract. Sean Bouffiou, King County licensing finance administrator, told the Council that the city’s pet license rate of $20 would be increased to the county rate of $30 for altered animals and $50 to $60 for unaltered pets if it were to take over the animal contract from CARES. He also said the county feels it can increase the number of pet licenses issued, thus increasing revenue. [caption id="attachment_100104" align="alignleft" width="200"]Sean Bouffiou Sean Bouffiou of King County[/caption] Bouffiou reiterated that many of the discounts the county is able to return to its member cities are based on actual savings by the wider consortium of cities it serves. Parade of CARES supporters The parade of public speakers at the meeting was hugely on the side of CARES, many suggesting the people running CARES are local residents that “really care.” Frequent Council commenter Ed Dacy said the difference in cost “looks like one police officer … it that your intent, to cut police” to get the money to pay for the county animal control? [caption id="attachment_100106" align="alignright" width="200"]Verna Seal Tukwila Tukwila City Councilmember Verna Seal[/caption] Tukwila City councilmember Verna Seal said her city has contracted the county animal agency for years, but “Burien CARES is an amazing model and you have a gem in your community” then added, “I, personally, would not be adverse to a partnership.” Amy Miller said she has seen CARES built from its start and “the heart and soul that comes with that and the volunteers and the donations and everybody in the community that loves it.” She pointed out the cost differences between the two agencies and why would the county want “the job when CARES is doing such a great job.” Bouffiou, from the county agency, said it was a great question but their participation before the Council was at the behest of the City leadership. “We have a different model than the CARES program, there are different costs involved and it is up to the City of Burien to decide what do you want in your animal services and how do you get there.” It was not the county’s position to leave CARES in a negative position. “It is a matter of choices,” Bouffiou said. Maryann Hudson was against the CARES contract extension. She said it was wrong to call themselves a “no kill” facility because the shelter is full and if an animal is turned away, “you don’t know what will happen to it – it could be killed.” She said she had been at the CARES shelter on Monday and “they were packed to the rafter with cats,” so what would they do if more cats were brought in? To watch the video of Monday’s study session, click here.]]>

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

17 replies on “CARES gets overwhelming support at Council session; decision expected June 6”

  1. Maryanne Hudson needs to find a new tall horse to ride out of town that will also support her absolutely zealous obsession with CARES. You lost, now please go away.

    1. Hey Maryanne,
      If your so worried about the cats at CARES why don’t you adopt one like I did ?

  2. CARES is a gem in the Burien community. I hope our council sees fit to keep a local shelter. It’s good for our pets and our people.

  3. I got a copy of the packet last Friday that had both groups costs and services. CARES is such a better deal that I and many others think some of our council members are making this personal instead of representing the citizens of Burien.

  4. Cares has adopted out animals that would not be in homes now if these residents had to go to county pounds. A friend of mine just got a 2 year old cat from CAREs and said only because it was local and he is very happy with his new room mate. Keep things local and you get your monies worth. The county doesn’t really want to add the City, you can tell that by the comments made at the meeting. I think some people need to lay aside their dislike for certain people and look at the broader picture.

  5. Our council needs to hear from its citizens. They are tasked with representing us fairly in their roles and they need to hear from us to best represent us. Not everyone is able to attend the meetings but we can all send an email to make our voices heard. You can contact the council by using this link

  6. Don’t forget the old saying”you get what you pay for” we need animal control not a kitty haven!! It’s not about weather they are cool or not.

  7. -Mahatma Gandhi said-
    “The greatness of a society can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
    Cares gives the most excellent choice in service to the animals of Burien. They provide much more than King County.
    They have a zero kill rate as a shelter. Kinh County does not.
    They provide food for animals whose owners for whatever reason cannot, KCACS does not.
    They love and nurture the animals in their care.
    Well I would say for all their services CARES gives the city more bang for the buck
    For some reason, this City Council is choosing to pick the more expensive and much less effective choice of King County Animal Control Services over our own Burien CARES for animal Control Services.
    The B-Town Blog did a poll, which had readers answer the question “Should the City of Burien extend the contract for CARES, or return to King Co. Animal Services?”
    76% responded to extend CARES contract
    Over 1400 citizens signed a petition to extend cares contract
    Simply Because CARES is the better choice.
    Costs less. Gives superior service.
    Every single city council member ran as the “Fiscally responsible choice” to sit on this city council…. So now prove it and extend CARES contract.

  8. We as citizens must watch this council carefully. Decisions aren’t being made with the community in mind. My thought was “why is this even being considered ” as the cost for King County is so much higher. Lucy K stated she still wanted it, regardless of the higher licensing fees because she prefers “the model” of King County and yet never specified what exactly is so amazing she (we citizens) wants to pay a few extra 100k for it. Bob E only parroted what his wife angrily stated from the back row and Debi W looked shocked as she heard the high numbers. After blowing 150k on “image consulting” for the city, with no clear result so far, and now this desire to pay three times for animal services my faith for fiscal responsibility in a few current council members is gone. Stop diluting the community so many of us are working our collective busts off to build!

  9. This “controversy” seems to stem from a personal vendetta against someone that has done a mighty fine job in developing this COMMUNITY shelter plan. Me thinks the mayor needs to open her ears and her heart, listen to the people that voted her into office, and give CARES the respect it deserves. Follow the advice of your fellow concil members Mayor Lucy, extend the CARES contract out until at least the end of 2018. The longer the contract, the happier the provider, the better the service can/will become!

  10. The following comment was posted on behalf of Laura Stiles Helms by Publisher Scott Schaefer, due to technical issues:

    Let’s be clear: The expanded title of this article might be, “CARES gets overwhelming support from the citizens, but only three of the seven council members – what’s going on?” Yep, naming names. The council members who support extending CARES’ contract, as overwhelming desired by the citizens (aka taxpayers) are Nancy Tosta, Austin Bell, and Steve Armstrong. After two hours of citizen testimony in favor of CARES, we and these three council members were incredulous to learn that Debi Wagner, Bob Edgar, and Lucy Krakowiak (our Mayor) were not on board. As Councilman Armstrong so aptly pointed out, “This is embarrassing.”
    Let’s review: The current CARES contract is a fixed cost of considerably less than $200,000 per year and is overwhelmingly supported by our community. The cost quoted by the county could be as high as $515,000 per year. Both contracts would be somewhat offset by license fees and fines collected. The county contract might, in the future, be reduced by some as-yet-unknown credit, but there is no way to know now what the net cost would be. The RASKC representative at the meeting agreed however, that it would not be realistic to think that the net cost would be less than what we are currently paying CARES. So there is clearly no financial benefit to switching back to RASKC.
    Let’s remember: The whole point of incorporating as a city, as we chose to do 20 years ago, is to localize services and assure that our taxes support easily accessible services customized to our city’s specific needs. This is exactly what CARES does. Their small, Burien-only shelter is located right in downtown Burien, easily accessible to all, even by public transit. They are open to the public 49 hours a week (more than their contract requires), six days a week, and provide 24/7 emergency response. Their officers are close at hand and familiar with the people and pets of our city. It is simply not possible for a large, regional service to match that level of service.
    On-site veterinary care is not cost-effective in a small shelter, but fear not, because it is not needed. Several local vets, the same ones that you probably use for your own pets, provide care as needed, they are close at hand and available 24 hours. In addition, CARES’ euthanasia rate is unusually low, and their return-to-owner rates are unusually high.
    Finally, last but absolutely not least, is the fact that CARES is truly a community effort. Staff, volunteers, and supporters of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds work together in the best interests of the animals – and ourselves. One of the things that is desperately lacking in our society today is a sense of belonging, togetherness, and effort towards a common purpose. Burien has been “taking a village” to build an animal shelter, dog park, doggie day care, and more. It would be a travesty to throw that all away, wasting the great effort that has gone into building something awesome for Burien.
    Which leads me to “why?” Why would four of our council members want to go back to RASKC, when CARES delivers an excellent value that is supported and valued by the vast majority of Burien residents? None of the dissenting members had a substantive reason to offer.
    Debi Wagner stated that her concerns were financial. See above, RASKC is not cheaper or a better value.
    Bob Edgar cited vague concerns about “data.” His wife complained shrilly that CARES recordkeeping must be suspect because they couldn’t possibly be receiving the number of calls about loose dogs as they claim. Well, first of all, she’s implying that CARES is falsifying their data, which is a serious matter and she might want to be mindful of making slanderous accusations. Furthermore, I don’t have a problem believing that they get lots of calls from citizens, because when citizens know that someone is available to respond, they will call for help. In contrast, it is pretty obvious that a large regional operation covering 25+ cities is not going to come rushing to your street to look for a stray dog, so many folks don’t bother to call.
    Lucy Krakowiak wants us to believe that this decision is the hardest one she has had to make during her entire time on the council. Really? Because it seems like it should be the easiest choice in town. And yet she states that for some mysterious reason, she still prefers RASKC. It seems that she must have a personal reason for abandoning the will of the voters she is supposed to be representing. Maybe she doesn’t like Debra George? Well guess what, that’s irrelevant. She was elected to represent the best interests of all 40,000 citizens of Burien by looking at the facts and responding to the taxpayers’ desires, not indulging personal biases or preferences.
    Lauren Berkowitz was not present at the meeting on Monday, but at the prior meeting she was one of the four council members who voted against extending the CARES contract. She didn’t like the fact that the contract kept getting extended without checking things out. Well, it’s been checked into and there’s no reason not to extend. In fact, now that CARES is well established and well supported by the community, it would make sense to extend the contract for several years, so the staff and volunteers don’t have to be constantly worried about whether they are getting shut down. It’s hard to plan ahead and invest in improvements when you don’t know if you’ll still be here in a few months.
    So, fellow citizens, contact your councilpersons and tell them what you think. You can do that here:
    Yes, I know my comment is long and cranky, but I am sick and tired of feeling like a salmon swimming upstream. It’s time for our council to work together and act in the best interests of the taxpayers.

    1. Laura,
      What you wrote is so right on, bravo! I feel the same way you do. I think everyone that attended that meeting knew there was a huge elephant in the room and that certain people on the council weren’t willing to address it. Why else would they not vote a 100 percent to continue cares? It’s a no brainer on all the issues brought up. I’m embarrassed by the way they acted in front of us. I hope on June 6th, as a volunteer and animal owner, they extend cares contract for a long time.

  11. Whatever is going on with this decision by the city council to drop CARES, we the citizens of Burien are not privy to know. A councilman making his decision based on his wife’s ‘belief’ that information is not true. A council woman making a decision based on her personal preference rather than that of the majority of the town’s citizens. And a council woman who bases her decision for fear the the contact has not been checked out. Really? We are doomed people with this kind of decision making at the helm. You can bet that there are other reasons for why this is happening. My best bet is that here’s a trade-off of some sort going on here.

  12. Much like congress, these 3 council members are holding us citizens hostage to further their own agendas at our expense and the safety and welfare of our animals. They will never receive my vote and should be fired for extending this process that we all have to pay for. Too bad our City Manager can’t manage better.

  13. CARES has established itself as a valuablel and humane facility for Burien animals. It’s been reassuring to know that we have this resource in Burien to call on when the need arises and has friendly caring and professional personnel.
    Having this facility plus the new of leash dog park has been a wonderful addition for the City of Burien, Why would anyone want to eliminate it from our locale?
    Why aren’t citizens consulted on these matters?

  14. Cares has come a long way since Mike Martin pushed them as a cheap way to provide animal control services.. In the beginning CARES provided sub standard services imo.
    Now however I think they have become a much better provider and as a result have a lot of community support. I think Debra Georges accomplishment in establishing animal control we can be proud of in Burien should be rewarded. I believe Burien should renew their contract.

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