Letters to the Editor

5 reasons a performing arts center is a bad idea | Federal Way letters

With our local and national economy struggling to come out of the worst recession in decades, combined with massive budget shortfalls at all levels of government, I was shocked to read that the Federal Way City Council approved spending more than $5 million on a performing arts center (PACC). In an effort to help the council see the folly in this decision, let me offer just five quantifiable reasons while a performing arts center is a bad idea (at least right now).

1. Other than public safety and transportation, it is virtually impossible for the city to run something efficiently, let alone profitably. The Dumas Bay Center and Community Center, with combined annual losses of $1.3 million in 2009 (or 13 police officers), are tragic examples.

2. The best case scenarios for a PACC estimate an annual loss of $250,000. I’d be willing to take a personal bet that the annual loss will be double this number. Either way, the council is again diverting a significant sum of taxpayer dollars away from core government services.

3. The “state’s money” is still our money. Our state, facing a $33 billion shortfall, cannot afford to spend $5 million on a PACC. In consideration of the proposed cuts to human services in our state, this is blood money.

4. “Economic impact” is pure baloney. The net economic impact of a PACC will be, at best, zero. If “economic impact” were a real thing, local businesses and the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce would be lining up to write checks in support of a PACC.

5. In January 2009, I issued a challenge to PACC supporters to find 250 people who would each pledge $1,000 annually to cover the projected operating expenses. I pledged to be the first one. I have yet to hear any PACC supporter offer to the same.

Would having a PACC give us all warm fuzzy feelings? Sure, until we received the bill in the form of higher taxes and/or a reduction in core city services (i.e. police, roads, etc.). The government, our government, needs to be in the business of providing basic services to the majority, not luxury benefits to the minority.

Matthew Jarvis, Federal Way

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