Homeless and unwanted dogs and cats in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick could have a new animal shelter, if the three cities can come up with $4 million and find a place to put the new facility.
The Kennewick City Council learned Tuesday that the Tri-Cities Animal Control Authority agrees the existing shelter located in decadesold warehousing in Pasco no longer is acceptable to house more than 200 animals. But it isn't yet a high enough priority in each of the three cities to force action on building a new 11,800-square-foot replacement facility.
A report from Scott Ruf of the Kennewick Police Department to the council noted that a needs assessment committee with members from each of the Tri-Cities recommends a search be done for a suitable site to build a new facility that would cost between $4 million and $5 million.
The committee also recommends the three cities come up with a plan to pay for the construction within the next five years.
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"The $4.2 million for a dog pound is just too much," said Councilman Bob Parks, the only dissenting member of the needs assessment committee. Parks said he recognizes the old shelter must be replaced, but balks at the cost.
Don Britain, Kennewick's second member of the committee, said he also didn't agree "with parts" of the recommendation, but the deplorable condition of the current facility isn't acceptable for the animals or the staff.
"That place can't continue. But where do we get the money?" Britain asked.
Ruf said lack of money is a hang-up for each of the cities. There is no site, no money and no formal commitment, he noted, adding, "If any city says no, it's game over."
But Councilman Paul Parish said something has to be done to convince the city councils of Pasco and Richland to make the new shelter a priority.
"We need to step up and get moving on this," he said.
Marie Mosley, city manager, said Kennewick can make the shelter a top priority, but it will require rearranging the city council's capital improvement programs to-do list for 2011-12.
There also is the possibility that Kennewick can work out some kind of partnership with Benton County, which plans to open its new animal control facility off Canal Drive at Grant Place next month, Mosley said.
But Parks said no one from the cities on the needs assessment committee showed any interest in talking about being partners with the county.
Also Tuesday, the council:
-- Heard an update from Planning Director Gregory McCormick about possible changes in the city's sign ordinance.
-- Received a progress report from Steve Plummer, city project engineer, and Terry Walsh, director of employee and community relations, about construction of the Southridge sports complex, including another ball field and the indoor pavilion. The facilities are on track to be completed and ready for public use in September.
-- Learned from Mosley that Kennewick has met the state's requirement to show a $500,000 increase in sales and property taxes directly related to Southridge improvements that are part of a designated local revitalization finance area. Mosley said the city showed it had generated $830,000 in new revenue for the state, which will allow Kennewick to annually receive back up to $500,000 in tax revenues that can be used to pay off development bonds.