Letters to the Editor

Setting the record straight

I am writing to set the record straight regarding the utility tax that was passed by the City Council in 1996 and implemented in 1997.

I read in the (Feb. 13) Federal Way Mirror this morning a statement from council member Hellickson that is simply inaccurate and misleading. In an article regarding the building of a municipal facility, Hellickson is reportedly bothered because “ ... voters were promised the utility tax would sunset in 2003 and they would have a new public safety facility.”

I served on the council during the discussion of this tax increase. In fact I authored the position paper that started the discussion. That paper is available to anyone wishing to read the original proposal, but I will extract one statement for clarification purposes.

“At the end of 10 years the utility tax revenues can be utilized for another Forward Thrust-type program or the tax can be rolled back.”

I do not know where Hellickson came up with the 2003 date or the “promise” made to voters. One council cannot bind the actions of a future council. Extending the collection of the utility tax is clearly a decision to be made by the current council. There will be no broken trust as Hellickson would like to claim.

What we do have five years after the council voted to increase the utility tax is a quality 250-seat theater at Dumas Bay Center, a first-class sports facility at Celebration Park, 320th Street improvements from 11th Avenue to the freeway, more then $5 million set aside for a Public Safety Building and an additional $1 million-plus per year being spent to resurface city streets.

These public initiatives add tremendously to quality living for thousands of residents. The citizens of Federal Way have been well served. While some will argue against any tax, the council’s responsibility is to invest tax dollars wisely.

Hellickson last November supported the addition of four police officers but voted against the property tax increase to fund the officers. He claimed the council could make cuts elsewhere in the budget to provide the needed resources. But he did not identify the programs he would be willing to cut to pay for the new officers. That is not leadership. That is irresponsible legislation. In fact, Hellickson relies too heavily on populist utterings and unfounded accusations without doing his homework. We need people with vision and wisdom on the council. To date, Hellickson has come up short on both counts.

Ron Gintz

Federal Way City Council

1992-1999

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