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Federal Way and Des Moines leaders explore partnership for public services

Members from the Federal Way and the Des Moines city councils met July 7 to discuss areas for potential partnerships. The cities are looking to identify ways to maintain public services and possibly cut costs as their respective budget processes approach. - Jacinda Howard, The Mirror
Members from the Federal Way and the Des Moines city councils met July 7 to discuss areas for potential partnerships. The cities are looking to identify ways to maintain public services and possibly cut costs as their respective budget processes approach.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard, The Mirror

The cities of Federal Way and Des Moines are looking to each other for creative ways to save money and continue providing public services.

On July 7, members from both city councils met to discuss partnerships. Federal Way invited Des Moines to participate in the casual meeting. The objective of the gathering was to brainstorm ways Federal Way and Des Moines can keep their respective identities, but possibly partner in areas that make economical sense.

"There might be some economies of scale," said Jack Dovey, Federal Way City Council member.

Both cities offer primarily the same services. There may be opportunities to combine efforts and thus cut costs, the council members agreed. At one time, Des Moines and Federal Way shared a police records model. Perhaps, the model could work better the second time around. Partnering to provide parks and recreation services is another option that was mentioned. Yet another example suggested, Des Moines could put a link on its website that connects viewers to Federal Way's website, and vice versa. This could help the cities advertise their respective programs and services.

It may be beneficial to open up recreation programs to residents of both Des Moines and Federal Way. There are some programs, such as sailing, that are unique to just one of the cities. Under a partnership model, perhaps residents could register for the class at the Federal Way Community Center and take the sailing class through the Des Moines recreation department, or vice versa, said Tony Piasecki, Des Moines city manager.

"This is about offering opportunities more effectively," said Matt Pina, Des Moines council member.

The idea is not to eliminate staff jobs, Pina said. It is about figuring out where the two cities can combine efforts to better serve residents. City staffs must know the councils are not looking to identify more areas for layoffs, he said.

Though several ideas were brought forth, they all must be further researched before either council takes immediate action. The two groups agreed to meet again leading up to each city's budget to further discuss potential partnerships. Meetings will likely take place late this summer.

Other topics up for discussion at those events may include placement of Sound Transit's Light Rail and airplane noise. Light rail is scheduled to reach the South Sound, but placement for the track has not yet been identified. Working together to identify a route and stops for the future light rail would benefit both cities. If Sound Transit were to locate light rail on the east side of Pacific Highway South, it would better serve residents in Des Moines and Federal Way, council members said.

If the two South Sound cities do choose to link up in areas, it would not be the first time Federal Way has partnered to leverage its resources. The city is a member of the Valley Communications Center, a 911 call center established through an interlocal agreement with Auburn, Renton, Kent and Tukwila. Federal Way is also partnering with nearby cities to build and operate the regional SCORE jail in Des Moines. The city's police department, among other departments, is engaged in several regional partnerships. South King Fire and Rescue, the fire district, serves both Federal Way and Des Moines.

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