Letters to the Editor

Disgusted by arts center issue | Federal Way letters

I read in the Federal Way Mirror that the city is scrambling for a site to build a performing arts, conference and cultural center before the state takes back $5 million they have set aside for us.

I was disgusted. I am not against having art and culture in our city. I was a 15-year season ticket holder to the Tacoma Actors Guild (TAG) and was sad to see it close, but I never thought that the government ought to prop it up or subsidize it.

The Mirror article quoted some officials that said this center could cost from $35 million to $55 million. If the center does not generate enough business to pay for the cost of building and operating it, the city will be spending money forever to subsidize it. We all know that the state and our city have serious budget deficit problems, so why are we considering spending money on a project like this?

If your family is having financial troubles, you stop going to plays, musicals and other cultural events. Likewise, a company during hard times stops sending its employees to conferences. So why wouldn’t a city that is having serious budget problems put aside plans for a center like the one proposed? Not only can the city not afford this project right now, but the public can’t afford to use it, so the city will have to subsidize it at a time when we don’t have any extra money.

One of the things that Jim Ferrell said during his recent campaign to be our mayor was that he had two fundamental questions for every project: Is it absolute necessary and is it the role of government. This arts center is not absolutely necessary, nor is it the role of government. Ferrell better vote against this project or his campaign promises don’t really matter.

I don’t ever feel that government should foot the bill for a project like this. Funds should come from donations by people or corporations and revenue from its operation. If you want to consider using city money, let’s wait until our economy improves, then ask the citizens of Federal Way if they want their money spent on a performing arts, conference and cultural center. The small number of people who attend city council meetings to support this project do not represent the vast number of citizens who are not there.

Let’s tell the state to take back the $5 million and use it to reduce our state’s budget deficit. Some people will say "but it’s money from the state and it’s not going to hurt our city." State money is our tax money too, so it’s still coming from our pocket.

Everyone is asking what can we cut to balance our budget. Well, here’s something.

Don Dennis, Federal Way

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