By KATHY KORENGEL
GRANITE FALLS — The city is going to the dogs. Or at least police are spending more time dealing with troublesome dogs and other animals than they can handle.
That’s the motivation behind proposed funding for a new part-time animal control position in the city’s preliminary budget for 2001.
The more than $4 million budget also includes funds for a new part-time code enforcement position and a request for a 6 percent increase in the city’s property tax levy.
Police Chief Chuck Allen said the need for an animal control officer arose over the past year, when staff from the Snohomish County sheriff’s office said they could no longer transport derelict animals from the city to the Everett Animal Shelter, although the Everett shelter still accepts Granite Falls animals.
Allen said that police sometimes have to transport animals to Everett, even using their own trucks because they can’t pack pooches in squad cars.
"If you have one officer per shift, it’s hard to have one go out of town to deliver a pet to the pound," Allen said.
The city has only six full-time police officers.
As for the code enforcement position, Allen said, "As Granite Falls is growing, a lot of the code enforcement issues we (the police) are asked to deal with are not police issues."
Examples include enforcing land-use violations, property permit violations and violations of environmental regulations.
"Frankly, these are issues we don’t know a lot about," Allen said, adding they also seem to change often.
City clerk Gerry James said the city may contract with another city for the animal control and code enforcement services.
The new part-time positions, if approved, would be overseen by city staff, not the police department, Allen said.
James said the hike in taxes is mainly needed to cover the increasing costs of police and judicial services due to the city’s population growth.
The proposed 6 percent hike is the maximum local cities can ask for, and 4 percent more than the cap set by Initiative 722, which was passed Nov. 7. Although it is being challenged in the courts, the initiative becomes law Dec. 7.
James said the city, in order to meet the initiative mandate, may have to scale back proposed expenditures.
She said city staff is hoping property tax revenue from new construction will make up for any revenue deficit caused by I-722.
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