City Council renews animal control contract
July 3, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
King County remains the provider of animal control services in Issaquah under a contract approved by the City Council.
The current provider, Regional Animal Services of King County, changed the formula for how cities pay for the agency. Under the old agreement, cities paid equal amounts based on population and the number of calls, but the updated agreement ditches the 50-50 agreement for a method based more on number of calls in a particular city.
The contract amounts to about $60,000 per year for Issaquah. The agreement is in place through December 2015.
“We think they made it a little more fair,” city Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said.
Regional Animal Services serves 25 other cities in King County. Only Auburn did not renew the county contract, and instead embarked on a municipal animal control program.
The demand for animal control services is less in Issaquah than Auburn and other South King County cities. In April, for instance, animal control officers responded to 14 calls in Issaquah.
McGill said the most common calls stem from dog barking noise complaints and loose dogs running into neighbors’ yards.
“Ours is not as serious, but for the people who call, it’s bothering them,” she added.
Representatives from the county and contract cities negotiated for months to reach the latest agreements. The contracts in Issaquah and other contract cities took effect July 1.
Officials highlighted possible advantages in the updated agreement.
“Costs will cap at the 2013 level, so that’s a positive,” Councilwoman Eileen Barber said before the unanimous council decision June 18.
The pact also expands the hours of availability for animal control officers.
“When we haven’t had evening and weekend hours in the past, we now have evening and weekend,” Barber said.
Like the earlier agreement, the county is divided into service districts. Issaquah is in the same district as Bellevue, Mercer Island, Newcastle, North Bend and smaller cities along the Lake Washington shoreline.
In 1993, Issaquah and King County forged a pact for animal control services. The council approved the previous agreement between the city and county in June 2010, as King County morphed the former King County Animal Care and Control into Regional Animal Services of King County.
The change came after a troubled, unprofitable era in animal services.
Problems at King County Animal Care and Control — in leadership, organization and operations — led to public outcry and legal challenges, prompting the King County Council to direct County Executive Dow Constantine to make changes in late 2009.
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.