Letters to the Editor

Good reasons for more taxes and spending

The Nov. 23 story about the cityŽ’s 2003-04 budget (Ž“City taxes ratcheting upŽ”) had a serious error and lacked perspective.

While Federal Way City Councilman Mike Park voted against raising the utility tax and imposing the admissions tax, you were wrong on his vote on the full 2003-04 budget. He did not vote against it, as reported. He voted for the budget.

There was no perspective in the story regarding why these additional funds are needed now and in 2005. Here are a few of the reasons:

Ž¥ If funding a new municipal facility for city hall, the public safety department and Municipal Court were delayed another two years until the next biennial budget, then the city would wastefully pay at least $668,000 for that period of time in rent for the current public safety building and the court. The rents are $262,000 for the public safety buildings and $72,000 for the court ŽÑ annually. Further, we would continue in an unsuitable and risky work environment.

Ž¥ If the city doesnŽ’t take over the Kenneth Jones Pool by Jan. 1, 2003, the county will mothball it. As is usual with county government, it has been virtually impossible to get a detailed, accurate figure from the county on what annual maintenance and operation costs are for the pool. A ballpark guess is around $675,000. The 32-year-old pool needs renovation and is too small for the community it serves. The pressing need for continued use of the pool, renovation and enlargement were evident in the abundance of public comment at City Council meetings over the past several months.

Ž¥ If Federal Way did not use its legally allowed 1 percent capacity in the utility tax, the county government would attempt to capture those funds for its own use. The City Council voted to keep that money for local needs.

Ž¥ The 1 percent utility tax increase amounts to $40 per year per household. These monies are specifically dedicated for maintaining the Kenneth Jones Pool now and building and operating a future replacement. Also included in the package are funds for building and operating a community/senior center (envisioned as part of the new pool building) to replace the currently inadequate Klahanee Center.

Ž¥ The 2.5 percent admissions tax begins in 2005 and would pay for two police officers. Current overhead for this vital staff is covered by one-time savings from the cityŽ’s 2001-02 budget. That 2.5 percent amounts to 20 cents on an $8 movie ticket or 75 cents on a $30 admission ticket to Enchanted Parks.

Ž¥ The article makes no mention of the fact that Federal Way ranks 33rd out of 36 cities in King County for per-capita fees and taxes paid by its residents. These taxes include sales, property and gambling funds. The fees cover those for recreation, building permits and business licenses. The city receives only 10 percent of sales taxes and 11 percent of property taxes collected. The balance goes to state and county government.

Yes, taxes are inevitable. But it assuages the burden for me to know that we get positive, long-term community-building returns from those funds.

H. David Kaplan

Federal Way

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