City Council signs contract with county for animal control
July 1, 2010
By Tim Pfarr
Pet licenses to increase from $7 to $30 per year
At its June 15 regular meeting, the City Council unanimously voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with King County in which the county will provide animal control and licensing services through 2012.
The County Council approved the new system June 21, and it went into effect July 1.
The city previously handled its own licensing, and through the new agreement, pet licenses will increase from $7 to $30 per year. However, pets with lifetime licenses will not be subject to the new fees, and old licenses valid past July 1 will still be honored by the city.
Residents can now purchase pet licenses on King County’s Animal Care and Control website or at City Hall. The county will now enforce pet licenses, and the city will no longer send out reminder notices for pet license renewal.
The city previously paid $2,500 per year for the county’s animal control services, but the county passed an ordinance in November 2009 that stated the county would no longer operate an animal shelter, and that cities wishing to continue utilizing the county’s services would need to pay all of their own expenses.
The county passed the ordinance because it can no longer afford to subsidize animal control and licensing services, at a cost of about $3 million per year.
Now, the city will pay the county about $19,000 per year for animal control services and $10,000 per year for licensing, according to the city’s estimates. The city will receive a credit of about $10,000 per year, as it shelters few animals. This credit reduces the animal control costs from $29,000 to $19,000.
On average during each of the past three years, the county only had to respond to 62 animal control calls and shelter 21 animals, according to county figures.
Newcastle is one of 27 cities in the county that opted to join the new agreement through 2012. Federal Way, Burien, Algona, Pacific and Hunts, which used the county for animal services before, opted out of the new agreement. Bothell signed on with the county for animal control services for six months.
The only cities that previously did not use the county for animal control services were Seattle, Renton, Skykomish and Milton.
Had the city not entered into the agreement, it would have needed to independently handle animal control, as no other municipalities have brought forward new animal control systems in which the city could take part.
“There are basically two options,” interim City Manager Rob Wyman said at the June 15 meeting. “Partner with the county or abandon animal control in the city.”
Councilman Sonny Putter said the city had no choice at this time but to sign the contract, but he said if other municipalities establish alternative regional animal control systems, the county’s new system would fall apart.
Mayor John Dulcich said the city has an obligation to provide some level of animal control, and that the agreement with the county offers the best option.
“Right now, it’s our lowest cost alternative with the exception of doing nothing,” he said in an interview after the meeting.
Call the King County Pet Information Line at 206-296-7387 for more information about pet licensing in the new system.
On the web
Purchase a King County pet license on its animal care and control website at http://payments.kingcounty.gov/ safety/animalservices/PetLicenses.