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Debt, debt and more debt | Federal Way letters, March 11
Hypothetical situation. What do you do? So there you are with the economy in the toilet for a lot of people. You have lost your job, just like another 12.5 million people, according to the latest job figures. You have a mortgage or note on several things you need to pay on every month, but you have hope to get an income in the future. So what do you do?
Do you take out a home equity loan and build that addition to your home you’ve been meaning to do for years, just never had the time until now? Or remodel it? Maybe you can hire yourself and family members to do it with or for you and pay yourself a wage, like any other job would, until the economy picks up? That’s an interesting idea, if the bank will let you get away with it. Odds are though, if you can’t prove to a bank you don’t need the money, they won’t give it to you.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that sort of what the City of Federal Way is thinking of doing with the Performing Arts Center? Don’t we already have an empty lot and an empty promise of some high-rise building or two on the old AMC property? Is that debt still being carried? I’m asking because I think we owe more on the Community Center still, right? Is it making a profit or paying the cost of its own price tag? I think there was some opposition to that project as well, wasn’t there? Didn’t the Community Center get voted on and passed even in the face of a lot of opposition? If we're going to shoot for the moon here, let's build a revolving restaurant like the Space Needle on the AMC property as a year-round tourist attraction? Right?
OK, so do we really need a performing arts center? Do we need one right now? Is there that high of a demand for performing arts here in Federal Way? Do we have any other facilities we can have concerts and plays in now — that maybe can tide us over through this tough time without spending huge sums of borrowed debt?
I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to spend a lot of money right now on frills when businesses and families are really concerned with keeping their jobs and wondering where things are going. Do you? You do know even with the best intentions, a lot of the folks that are having their homes foreclosed on right now, had jobs when they first purchased the homes and easily may have lost their jobs four and five years ago when the first wave of layoffs hit places like WaMu, MCI, IBM and many others. It is easy to over-extend yourself with debt when you have no control over your job or your income.
Is that why the City of Federal Way can still spend money on projects like this? They, after all, have the keys to the purse strings, right? The city can just raise taxes more if they need more money, right?
What happens if it gets really tough and a lot of businesses close down? It's been lean for years already for a lot of business owners I know. Did I read that GM may not make it through this downturn if it does turn into a recession? That’s Jet Chevrolet, right?
In tight times, do people spend more or make cuts? Do they buy luxury items? Do they buy high-ticket items? Do they buy manufactured goods like cakes, hamburgers and Chinese food, or do they make their own at that point? What effect will that have on our local mall? What impact will a really bad economic downturn have on local businesses outside the necessities of life like phone, water, power and groceries?
What happens if the 1930s repeat themselves here? The world faced a similar crises then, didn’t it? What was the result of that? Wasn’t Hitler elected in Germany to solve unemployment and runaway inflation? Not that that would happen here in Federal Way… but isn’t adding more debt one of the reasons we are in such a mess?
Frosty E. Hardison, Federal Way