- About Us
Auburn studies local option for animal control service
Auburn is looking at a more efficient way to provide animal control service.
With 23 months left on the City’s 2½-year contract with King County, officials are giving serious consideration to a local proposal to answer the community’s long-term animal control service needs after the deal expires.
According to City Councilman John Partridge, a group of veterinarians and community members has formed the non-profit Auburn Valley Humane Society and wants to establish a partnership with the City to make things happen.
As partners, Partridge said Monday at the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the group is asking the City to do two things:
• Make the capital improvements to a city-owned building at 4910 A St. SE necessary to turn it into an animal shelter. The City would then lease the building to the group at a minimal cost for an indefinite period of time. The group would raise the money to remodel the interior and use the animal licensing fees, donations they raise and grants to provide the animal shelter in Auburn. That building had once been slated as the site for a city fire station, but the City abandoned that idea upon the formation of the Valley Regional Fire Authority. It has since marked the building for surplus. According to Partridge, the shelter could meet the City’s needs until a capital campaign could be completed to buy some land and build a permanent structure.
• Hire and equip a full-time animal control officer for Auburn. When the City signed the contract with King County, it also gave up its designated animal control officer, Tom Harris. Today he is responsible for covering 300 square miles of territory stretching from the eastern boundary of Federal Way to the eastern county line in the Cascade Mountains.
“For us to make this happen, we need help,” said Emily Purvis, a veterinarian and a member of the City’s Animal Control Task Force. “There’s no way that we can raise the money to buy property and build a building in this 23-month period we have left to make all this happen. We have to have some sort of partnership to bring it together.”
Partridge outlined the benefits as follows:
• The City would maintain ownership of the building and capital improvements for future use or sale.
• The City would gain the control and receive personalized service of a designated animal control officer, providing a much higher level of care to the community.
• The City would gain community ownership of the program
• The City would realize a $200,000 reduction in annualized costs in comparison to the county contract. A portion of the savings would be invested in onetime capital improvement and animal control equipment charges, but both would be assets of the City. By the second year and after, the City would realize an annual $278,000 in savings per year.
Figures show the county contract will cost the City $176,000 in 2011, but should the city re-sign, by 2014 that number would increase to $378,000, nearly four times its original price tag. And that’s with the City licensing marketing coordinator’s success in increasing its historical annual licensing revenue to $82,000, bringing anticipated revenue to $240,000.
In the spring of 2010, King County let Auburn and other cities know that the costs of providing animal control services had greatly increased since it last negotiated contracts with them. The message: accept a new, pricier contract, either for one year or for 2½ years, by July 1, 2010, or shift for yourselves. The one-year contract did not allow for renewal.
Given mere weeks between that surprising news and the deadline, city officials scrambled to come up with something.
The group of veterinarians and community members first got together and last June suggested a building on Harvey Road they believed could be refitted for an animal shelter. City Council members didn’t believe the group could arrange everything in time to be ready for business should the City choose the one-year contract, putting the city at risk of having nothing, but Mayor Pete Lewis asked Partridge to reconvene the group as a task force.
With no viable alternative, the City entered into the 2½-year contract.
What 2½ years bought the City, Partridge said, was time to come up with an alternative
On Nov. 16, 2010, the task force met and talked about service deficiencies and future cost concerns of staying with the county program after completion of the 2½-year contract. Members have met monthly since then to further define and strengthen the plan originally presented last June.
The building on Harvey Road is no longer available.