The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday approved the creation of a collaborative regional animal services program that spreads the cost of animal control, sheltering and licensing between 27 suburban cities and King County’s unincorporated communities, while providing for public safety and the humane care of animals.
The Council’s adoption June 21 of the regional plan is the culmination of three years of work by the council and the County Executive to reform an animal services system that was criticized by numerous council studies. A joint cities-county work group formed in January by County Executive Dow Constantine developed the regional program that creates a partnership between the county and the suburban cities that contract with the county for animal services.
The Bellevue City Council is expected to OK the agreement tonight at its regular meeting.
The agreement defines services, expenditures, cost allocation methodologies and establishes a city-county committee to pursue innovative service improvements and cost reductions.
Under the legislation, cities will pay a greater share of the cost of the services with the goal of eventually covering all the costs now subsidized by the county. Cities will have an incentive to generate revenue by increasing the rate of pet licensing, the fees that now help fund the system. The county, in collaboration with the cities, will undertake entrepreneurial activities, seek partnerships with private animal welfare organizations, and increase donations and the use of volunteers and fostering.
The new regional model divides the county into four geographic districts for animal control services:
· Bellevue, Beaux Arts, Clyde Hill, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Newcastle, North Bend, Snoqualmie, and Yarrow Point
· Bothell, Carnation, Duvall, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Redmond, Sammamish, Shoreline, and Woodinville
· Kent, SeaTac, and Tukwila
· Auburn, Black Diamond, Covington, Enumclaw, and Maple Valley
Each of the districts also includes unincorporated areas of the County, and King County will continue to be responsible for the provision of services in the unincorporated areas as the local government provider.
Each region will have a dedicated field officer, who would be overseen by a field sergeant. Additional assistance will be provided by an animal cruelty sergeant to investigate cruelty cases and two officers on call after regular service hours for emergency response.
The legislation also includes revenue-generating opportunities that involve the public and regional businesses:
· It encourages citizen involvement through the creation of an Animal Bequest Fund, which will provide revenue to support animal services through donations. The fund can be used only for animal services and will be managed by the Director of the Department of Executive Services.
· It authorizes the Director of the Department of Executive Services to explore entrepreneurial opportunities through concessions, advertising, sponsorship, and naming-rights agreements with vendors to sell animal-related products and services. Proceeds would be applied to regional animal services.