No capital budget stalls critical projects in Federal Way

HealthPoint Federal Way, which provides a dental clinic, medical clinic and pharmacy, is set to expand its dental clinic from four to 10 chairs except the bulk of the project’s funding is tied up in the capital budget, which the state Legislature did not approve before adjourning. Courtesy HealthPoint

The failure of lawmakers to pass a state capital budget this year means millions of dollars are in limbo for critical projects in Federal Way.

HealthPoint Federal Way health center is ready to expand its dental clinic except for one problem: $950,000 of its $1.5 million project is tied up in the state capital budget.

When the state Legislature adjourned its third special sesson without approving the capital budget in July, the health clinic, which serves low-income residents in Federal Way, had to put the project on hold.

Currently, the facility at 33431 13th Place S. has four chairs for dental care. The project will allow HealthPoint to add six more to expand access to care in Federal Way.

The dental clinic now serves between 2,000 and 3,000 patients a year, HealthPoint CEO Tom Trompeter said. He hopes to nearly double that number with the clinic’s expansion.

“We anticipate that those six chairs will accommodate 4,500 additional people we can’t serve right now because of our limited physical capacity,” Trompeter said. “So this is a significant expansion to dental care in Federal Way. There’s no two ways around it.”

According to its website, HealthPoint is a community-based, community-supported and community-governed network of non-profit health centers that provides health care to low-income residents. It has 12 locations in the region, including Federal Way’s facility, which has a dental and medical clinic and pharmacy.

HealthPoint draws its funding from a variety of sources including donations, the city of Federal Way and grants from the federal government, Trompeter said. Patients also pay on a sliding scale, and the clinic receives some money from Medicaid and Medicare.

HealthPoint’s expansion is highly dependent on the capital budget being passed, Trompeter said.

“For better than 20 years, we’ve been a really significant partner in Federal Way, taking care of people who really need care,” Trompeter said. “Seeking this expansion is only a deepening of that commitment, and I’m eager for the House and Senate to get their act together and pass the capital budget.

“There are a lot of real people’s needs that are hanging in the balance because [legislators] can’t come to some sort of agreement,” he added.

Federal Way Public Schools is another agency affected by the stalled capital budget.

This school year, the TAF Academy and Saghalie Middle School are merging to create “TAF&Saghalie,” which will be one of three FWPS-designated lighthouse demonstration sites that support the district’s efforts to create a kindergarten through 12th grade “STEM region.”

The merger will increase the number of students from 400 to 800. It also requires work to convert existing classrooms and library spaces to create project-based learning environments by adding equipment such as laptops, computers and GPS devices for physics. The merger also requires renovation of the library and expanding/updating the engineering lab.

District spokesperson Kassie Swenson said the district will move ahead with its merger plans, despite the fact it cannot start its renovation plans until the $2.8 million is released.

Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell said the city also anticipated receiving capital budget funding, including money for the Performing Arts and Event Center. He said the city was slated to receive $1 million for the PAEC, bringing the amount the city has raised for the $32 million project to $25 million. The city would have also received $250,000 for Safe City surveillance cameras.

Other local projects on hold until the capital budget is approved:

FUSION: $500,000 for transitional housing.

Federal Way Senior Center: $175,000 for kitchen upgrades.

Weyerhaeuser land preservation study: $250,000.

Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce: $250,000 for an economic development project.

TAF Founder Trish Dziko, from left, and Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Tammy Campbell listen as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee talks about the importance of the Legislature passing the capital budget during a visit, July 31. The school district was set to receive $2.8 million in the capital budget to merge the TAF Academy at Saghalie Middle School. Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools

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