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"Crime, traffic top citizen concerns"
"Traffic and crime topped citizens' concerns in a survey the city conducted to help it with budget priorities in the wake of Initiative 695's passage. In April, the city mailed surveys to 37,500 households in Federal Way. Surveys also were available at two libraries, City Hall, the Dumas Bay Centre and the Federal Way police station. About 750 surveys were returned.Management Services Director Iwen Wang says the council will consider the surveys' results as general information in the budgeting process just like any other input gathered from citizens.Because it's not a scientific survey, it's not going to be viewed as critical or an accurate reflection of the general population, Wang said, But we've definitely been reading the survey and looking at the result. I think it is fairly representative of the community's feedback.The passage of Initiative 695, which replaced the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax with a $30 fee for license tabs on most vehicles, left a $1.6 million hole in the city's annual budget. City Manager David Moseley enacted a hiring freeze for a few months and ordered the survey to gain more public input than gathered in previous budget cycles. We believe voters sent a message, Moseley said in April. It's our job not to whine about that message but to do something about that message.Residents sent another message through the survey. Twenty-five percent of the respondents have lived in the city less than five years; 18 percent, five to 10 years; 18 percent, 10 to 15 years; 9 percent, 15 to 20 percent; and 30 percent, more than 20 years.The longest has lived here 60 years and the shortest six weeks, so it's a really long lens, Wang said.Age wasn't the only difference among respondents. They differed widely in their perception of the city and needed services. They range from the person who said, Please take all your so-called 'services' and leave to the respondent who said, Federal Way is one of the best cities I have lived in. Good job.People offered a variety of suggestions for improving the city, including pedestrian bridges over 320th Street and Pacific Highway, prohibiting the construction of apartments, attracting high-tech companies, and building a centrally-located civic auditorium. Some respondents chastised the City Council for its trips to sister cities and its January retreat in Ocean Shores, Wash., with one person calling the latter a waste of our tax dollars.While some people praised the construction of Celebration Park - Good job on Celebration Park. Let's have more of the same - others criticized the city for building a park many voters didn't want - Do not build parks that citizens have not voted for.While one person expressed hatred for the city's name - 'Federal Way' is embarrassing and demeaning. - another urged the council not to change it - It is OUR NAME and I LIKE IT. Among the survey results:* More than 66 percent of respondents said they believe the city is an excellent or good place to live.* Respondents said the major issues in neighborhoods over the next two years include policing, speeding, parking and street improvements like sidewalks and lighting.* Forty-two percent of respondents said the city's biggest issue over the next two years will be traffic congestion and speeding.* When asked how the city should deal with the loss in revenue, 61 percent said the city should increases taxes with inflation, 28 percent said cut services and 11 percent said be more efficient.* When those who said to reduce services were asked which they had in mind, the No. 1 answer was the performing arts and public arts.* Of services that could be privatized, the most frequent answers were public works, parks maintenance and the arts, namely the Knutzen Family Theatre.* Respondents desired a higher level of service from police and traffic services.What's aheadThe surveys aren't the last chance for the public to have a say on the city's 2001-02 budget. Two public hearings are scheduled. Also, coffee hours with City Manager David Moseley will be held from 7 to 8 a.m. on yet-to-be-announced dates at Coco's and the SeaTac Mall Food Court. The city's department managers are preparing their department budgets, said Management Services Director Iwen Wang. City Manager David Moseley will receive those budgets by mid-July. He'll review them and submit his recommended budget to the City Council on Sept. 19.Department directors will give presentations to the council in mid-October. Public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 19 and Nov. 7. The council is scheduled to adopt a budget on Nov. 21. "