Federal Way legislative agenda targets sewers, state money

Maintaining funding levels from the state, and lobbying for aid to help increase the downtown core’s sewage capacity, will be Federal Way’s top two legislative agenda items for 2012.

Due to the special legislative session beginning Nov. 28 in Olympia, the city council voted on the legislative agenda ahead of schedule to make sure Federal Way’s concerns are heard properly in the state’s capital.

“Our number one priority may be significantly impacted by that special session,” Mayor Skip Priest said, referencing the fact that state-shared revenues comprise approximately 5 percent of the city’s operating budget.

Bryant Enge, director of administrative services, shared how the legislative agenda was developed.

“The key principles of this agenda are to maintain revenue sources, preserve and enhance city services, promote economic growth, address quality of life issues, and to maintain local decision making,” Enge said during the council’s Nov. 15 meeting.

Enge said the agenda was categorized to give the city direction on where to expend the most effort regarding its positions with the legislators in Olympia. The agenda is broken down into “highest priority,” “other top priorities,” “support/oppose policy positions” and “track/monitor policy issues.”

Other top priorities were public safety, transportation, economic development and Sound Transit.

Enge said for public safety, the city will support legislation that enhances local law enforcement agencies’ ability to combat auto theft and other property crimes. Transportation was focused on the Triangle project at Interstate 5 and State Route 18, and the remaining funding needed to complete the new on- and off-ramps between I-5 and SR 18.

“We want to make sure we have our hat in the ring for the $118 million needed to complete the project,” Enge said.

Economic development is geared toward asking for $1 million to upgrade the downtown core’s sewer capacity. Sound Transit will focus on getting the regional transit authority to act with fairness and transparency in its dealings with the city in regards to getting light rail into Federal Way and the South Sound.  Sound Transit announced last spring that light rail in Federal Way will be scrapped due to a 31 percent shortfall in tax revenue collections for the South King County area.

Deputy Mayor Dini Duclos called for the downtown sewer upgrade to be pushed up the list, asking why it wasn’t one of the highest priorities.

“I don’t think (this) is out of reason, especially with what we’re trying to do with the downtown,” Duclos said. “I’d like to move it into the highest category, you’d only have two, and that’s not that bad.”

The council agreed with the deputy mayor. The agenda and Duclos’ modification were approved unanimously, with councilwoman Linda Kochmar recusing herself on the vote.

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