Letters to the Editor

City budget and Korean liaison are in good hands

Lawrence J. Wilson’s letters often have misleading or inaccurate statements. His latest harangue (Dec. 1, “City budget: It needs closer scrutiny”) adds bigotry. That is offensive and unacceptable.

As usual, Mr. Wilson has not done his homework. He wonders why the city funds a Korean liaison. This productive segment of our community has many first-generation immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a short period of time. They need assistance with the cultural differences regarding public safety, business licenses, city codes and building requirements. Their strong family values and widespread community participation add many economic and social benefits to Federal Way. The small investment for a Korean liaison is returned many-fold to the fabric and economic well-being of our community.

The hotel/motel tax is regulated by state law. Mr. Wilson apparently does not know that those funds can only be dedicated to promoting tourism. The city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommends which tourist development projects those funds should support. Final approval is made by the full city council.

The utility tax was initially instituted for five citywide projects. In addition to streets (which Mr. Wilson erroneously designates as the only recipient of utility tax monies), these monies also funded construction of the theater at Dumas Bay and Celebration Park, started a financial nest egg for construction of a public safety building and helped revitalize the roads and streetscape in the city center. An additional 1 percent was instituted to pay for the new community center. Once construction was completed, part of the utility tax is designated for ongoing maintenance of the capital projects.

Mr. Wilson is obviously unaware that the city manager’s contingency fund is audited every single year as part of the city’s overall financial review. This pool of money is established by City Council policy. Three percent of the total general fund budget is earmarked for the city manager’s contingency fund. This is the only such fund in city administration; no city department has any contingency money in its budget. Use and disbursement of this fund is discussed with the council before it is allotted, and all distributions are clearly indicated in all budget documents.

I suggest that Mr. Wilson make two New Year’s resolutions. First, he should secure accurate facts before writing letters to the newspapers. Second, he should foster inclusiveness and appreciate the productive members of our community, regardless of ethnicity.

H. David Kaplan

Federal Way

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