Council receives latest dish on SCRAPS licensing strategy
By Craig Howard
Back in early December, Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus stood before City Council and outlined the potential renewal of a contract with Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services.
The topic had generated its share of emotional debate in the final months of 2012, with local dog and cat enthusiasts turning up in droves at City Hall to voice their support of SCRAPS and general opposition to a proposed option of signing on with SpokAnimal, the city of Spokane's animal protection agency.
"We're trying to secure the best service for the best value," Asmus said at the Dec. 2 council meeting.
Ultimately, the city renewed its contract with SCRAPS, part of a sweeping mandate that paved a path for a regional animal control agency that will finally become official after years of debate and discussion. On Dec. 18, the governing board cleared the way for Mayor Steve Peterson to sign an interlocal agreement with SCRAPS for a contract that would run the city $11,620 for 2013.
Council's approval included the caveat that city staff work with SCRAPS Executive Director Nancy Hill to improve the percentage of Liberty Lake animals licensed through the agency as a way to offset some of the costs absorbed in the municipal budget. At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Asmus was asked by Council Member Josh Beckett for an update on those conversations with Hill.
Asmus said SCRAPS now features online steps for new licensing whereas, previously, only renewals were available via such a route. Pawpular Companions, a Liberty Lake-based business, now offers county licenses as well.
Asmus said the city had approached the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District about the possibility of including licensing applications in utility bill mailings but the idea had not floated, to this point, with LLSWD officials.
"Don't give up on the sewer district," Beckett advised.
Asmus said Hill has also submitted guest editorials to both The Liberty Lake Splash and the Valley Current and would be writing an article on the importance of licensing in the city's e-newsletters. He added that the city has forwarded the agency a schedule of local events such as Liberty Lake Days and the Farmers Market where SCRAPS could have a presence. A bulk mailer to the 99016 and 99019 ZIP codes is scheduled for the fall.
In other news related to LLSWD, the utility's new general manager, BiJay Adams, appeared at the April 9 meeting to promote the citywide clean green cleanup day scheduled for April 20. The city and LLSWD will have representatives on hand at the site of the Farmers Market, 1421 N. Meadowwood Lane, to collect yard waste, leaves and other clean green refuse. The two entities also collaborate on a cleanup day in the fall.
"The district fully supports the clean green program with the city," Adams said.
City Administrator Katy Allen also thanked LLSWD on Tuesday for storing a donated shipment of 60 yards of compost that will be used to fertilize trees throughout Liberty Lake. On Friday, April 26, at 10 a.m., Peterson will add to the city's collection of greenery, planting a new tree near the entrance of City Hall as part of this month's Arbor Day festivities.
In the latest installment of an ongoing series to provide City Council with "a background on how city revenues work," Finance Director R.J. Stevenson presented an overview of property tax on Tuesday. Stevenson pointed out that the municipal portion of the property tax scenario only represents 13 percent of the total paid by local property owners. Other entities, such as the Central Valley School District, Spokane Valley Fire Department and Spokane County, comprise the bulk of the overall picture.
Looking at Liberty Lake's projected operating revenue of $5,589,445 for 2013, property tax represents 33 percent of the proceeds, trailing only sales tax at 35 percent. Utility tax revenue comes in a distant third at 12 percent with licensing and permits fourth at 6 percent.
In other city news:
• Allen provided an update on the Liberty Lake Ball Fields, saying the city was "still putting the numbers together on the cost of construction … and looking at options of what to build and when." She said a detailed report should be ready for council by May and noted that if something is going to happen with the space this year, a decision must be made within the next six to eight weeks.
• Peterson read an official city proclamation observing National Library Week while Liberty Lake Library Director Pamela Mogen handed out festive National Library Week buttons to all in attendance at City Hall.
• Asmus reviewed the city's regulations on golf carts, noting that those who operate the vehicles must be over 16 to drive on public roadways. Reckless driving of golf carts can result in a civil infraction and a ticket of $124.
• The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at City Hall. Allen said the agenda would include an update on the city's pavement management program in hopes of "providing council with an understanding of how much we should be spending on roads to keep them in the current condition they're in."
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