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City mulls what to do with county’s unused pet license fees
King County Animal Control's service ends for Auburn residents Jan. 1, the day the Auburn Valley Humane Society opens its shelter on A Street Southeast.
That's also the day the City of Auburn through PetData, the vendor it has hired Monday anticipates hiring to provide animal licensing services, begins collecting pet license fees to help fund shelter operations, per the City's contract with AVHS.
Because the county won't be providing animal control services to Auburn residents after Dec. 31, Jan. 1 is also the day the once-a-year pet licensing fees Auburn residents have paid King County at some point over the last 12 months stop corresponding to a valid license.
What happens to the portion of the yearly fee left unused by Jan. 1? Can King county keep it? Should the City ask for it? Can pet licensees ask for a rebate?
The City of Auburn needs an answer to this question because it has agreed per contract to partner with AVHS based on a projected amount of revenue from the licensing fees.
"We realized that we might not get any of it and that we have to talk to King County because they're collecting money for a service they are no longer going to provide after Jan. 1," Mayor Pete Lewis recently told members of the Municipal Services Committee.
"We could be asking for funds unused to be returned because we do not expect the person who gets the license today to have to pay again for licensing when it comes. On the other hand, I do not expect to lose an employee because we don't have the money to pay the Valley Humane Society," Lewis said.
Wouldn't it be illegal, Councilwoman Largo Wales asked, for the county to charge for a service it no longer renders?
"That's what we're about to find out," said Lewis, adding that he expects the county will return the money to Auburn.
PetData serves the cities of Bothell and Lakewood and the town of Steilacom among its 45 clients throughout the United States. It will collect the licensing revenue, and after extracting its administrative fee, turn the money over to the City of Auburn, which will then forward 100 percent of it to AVHS.
E-mails and calls to KCAC were not returned for this article.