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Goal in going green: Save some greenbacks

The city council is willing to take steps toward making Federal Way an environmentally-friendly city, but is not ready to pursue long-term annual funding.

In December, the council committed $80,000 toward creating a Green City Strategic Plan and decreasing greenhouse gases in Federal Way.

The city council decided April 1 at a special meeting to accept three of the staff’s five recommendations in launching the plan.

“Our goal is trying to come up with comprehensive ideas to lean toward becoming a green city,” council member Mike Park said.

The formation of two teams — City Green Team, comprised of approximately 15 city employees, and Green Ribbon Panel, comprised of the public sector — was approved by the council.

The City Green Team will review Federal Way’s current actions to decrease its carbon emissions and make suggestions on how to enhance these efforts without spending a great deal of money. The Green Ribbon Panel will assist the city in public education and outreach, as well as provide feedback on proposed green measures.

The council also approved the City Green Team to begin reviewing Federal Way’s energy use, transportation, fleet, building options, purchasing procedures and solid waste, recycling, urban forestry and surface water practices. This process will start within the next four to six weeks, Deputy Public Works director Ken Miller said.

“We are hoping we can make some changes without spending money,” Miller said.

The city will be able to perform some actions on its own, but some will require the assistance of experts. Staff recommended the city secure a carbon footprint analysis, which is a measure of the greenhouse gases and their sources present in Federal Way.

The council chose not to follow the staff’s recommendation to pursue the analysis at this time. Dovey said he was interested in learning how often a carbon footprint study would be needed and how much the study will cost before he is willing to approve funding for it. He worries the study, which would be used to measure the city’s progress in decreasing greenhouse gases, could turn into an annual expense that may not be needed.

“I’m concerned we are going to open Pandora’s box and have long-term budget spending,” Dovey said.

He would rather see the city spend money on changes such as using energy-efficient light bulbs and running City Hall’s air conditioning and heating system on a timer, he said.

“I’m afraid we are going to spend $80,000 and not think of the common sense things we should be doing,” Dovey said.

Further discussions:

This is the third time the council has discussed how to spend its $80,000 on the Green City Strategic Plan.

Staff’s recommendations were the result of the council’s decision to turn down in January a suggestion to draft a request for proposal (RFP) and hire a consultant to formulate and carry out the plan. The need to further research how best to use the limited funding was cited for the rejection of the RFP.

Staff will look into the cost for a carbon footprint analysis and come before the city council once again in the next four to six months before any final decisions on how to spend the money, Miller said. If the city council chooses to eventually pursue a carbon footprint, a consultant or the University of Washington would need to be hired, he said.

“There are specific things we (the city) simply don’t have the expertise for, and it would be up to the council if they want to spend the money to explore those things,” said Scott Pingel, an International City/County Management Association fellow.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

Check it out:

Those interested in participating in the Green Ribbon Panel can contact Scott Pingel at (253) 835-2403.

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