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City officials lobby feds for funding

U.S. senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray didn’t know Federal Way was such a large city before Mayor Jeanne Burbidge and Councilwoman Linda Kochmar told them personally.

Burbidge and Kochmar traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this month for a National League of Cities conference. The League lobbies Congress to provide money and support for city interests. On this year’s federal agenda, the League is focusing on homeland security, the economy, the federal budget, combating racism and local community-building.

Kochmar and Burbidge met with Murray and Cantwell, Washington’s senators, and with staff from U.S. Rep. Adam Smith’s office while they were in Washington, D.C.

Burbidge said they were lucky to have an audience.

“It was a very worthwhile opportunity for us to share our concerns and have some good communication,” she said. “We were quite fortunate to make contact with both of them.”

Burbidge and Kochmar asked the senators to continue working for funding for Federal Way, including Local Law Enforcement Block Grants and Community Development Block Grants.

Local Law Enforcement Block Grant funding was cut by $122 million during fiscal year 2002, from $522 million to $400 million. City officials told Congress they support the previous funding level.

The city has received about $500,000 in Local Law Enforcement Block Grants over the past several years.

Congress also cut Community Development Block Grant funding, from $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2001 to $4.3 billion this year.

Burbidge and Kochmar told federal legislators to support full funding for Community Development Block Grants, which provide city funding for human services and public safety.

Last year, Federal Way’s Community Development Block Grant funds provided the money for the Twin Lakes Oxford House, a group home for recovering drug- and alcohol-addicted men.

Burbidge and Kochmar also encouraged U.S. senators to pursue transportation funding for several Federal Way projects, including:

• The Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 161 triangle study;

• The interchange at I-5 and South 272nd Street;

• State Route 99 — Phase III, from South 284th Street to State Route 509;

• State Route 99 — Washington State Department of Transportation’s portion, from South 272nd Street to South 284th Street.

“Any money we could get from the federal government is helpful,” Burbidge said.

Burbidge and Kochmar told senators the city opposes any cuts to federal transportation funding. President George Bush has proposed up to a 30 percent cut in federal transportation funding.

Burbidge said the senators didn’t make any specific promises, but they were open to listening.

The trip cost the city approximately $3,000 for travel arrangements.

Burbidge and Kochmar gave the senators framed pictures of Celebration Park and audio recordings of the Federal Way Symphony and Federal Way Chorale to remind them of the city.

“That kind of thing can help people understand there is more here than maybe in the past,” Burbidge said.

Staff writer Erica Jahn can be reached at 925-5565 and ejahn@fedwaymirror.com.

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