Federal Way’s plate will always be full | Keith Livingston

As Federal Way residents, what can we expect from the next council and mayor?

With each election cycle, the belief is the future will be better — better for whom depends on the point of view of the citizen. The challenge for an elected official is getting support from their elected peers for their ideas. This often becomes the politics of process that we as citizens generally detest.

As Federal Way residents, what can we expect from the next council and mayor?

• Will they collectively get behind the Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC)?

• Will they take the time to understand how this city will be impacted negatively by the addition of low-income housing projects?

• Will they rebalance this city’s zoning and update the comprehensive plan to minimize the impact of the currently approved low-income housing projects?

• Will they add the staff necessary to properly support this city’s economic development and planning needs?

• Will they keep this city’s transportation needs in focus as a priority?

• What will they do to balance the increasing need for services, maintenance and capital projects with the city’s revenue streams?

I could add to the list but, the point is, the plate is currently full and it will always be full.

Every decision made by this council, its predecessors and successors creates legacy factors and management costs that accrue. If certain decisions had been made 20 years ago, Federal Way might be on a path of being a city with an economic vitality similar to Bellevue. It did not happen, but we need to talk proactively about creating an economic vision that focuses on attracting quality middle- and upper-income jobs to this city.

This city has the potential to be the city of choice in the South Puget Sound, but do the leaders we elect have the will? As citizens, will we let them have this discussion and invest our community’s value in building a better future? Or will we force them through negativity to sit on their hands and watch as this city’s population continues to grow with a trend toward being economically disadvantaged? If this trend continues, it will overwhelm Federal Way’s resources and for many years negatively stress this city’s tax base and image. Then what?

As citizens, we each have our own perspective regarding taxes and government. I’d rather invest in building a better and more progressive community that attracts success-oriented citizens and quality businesses. If we continue becoming poverty focused as a community, we will ultimately increase our expenditures for public safety and social services. Neither of those service sectors adds value to the tax base. Bellevue had a tax base valuation of $ 31 billion in 2012 for a population of 130,000, compared to $8.2 billion for Federal Way’s 90,000 residents. Think about it.

I know that taxes are a fact of life and we want our elected officials to be fiscally astute. However, I believe there are critical moments and opportunities in the life of every city where they need to invest more tax dollars in building community, infrastructure and cultural resources to avoid economic regression. If the current development and economic trend continues, we all lose property value and will ultimately be taxed proportionally more on the same property to maintain current or reduced service levels. I want our leaders to invest in our future in ways that attract quality development partners.

Federal Way resident Keith Livingston: keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com

 

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