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Federal Way solid waste utility tax increase seems unfair

Really, the contract has been in effect for 18 years and city leaders are just now realizing truck weight concerns?

Turns out I was wrong about Federal Way City Council bill 763 in regards to the solid waste. I was thinking, no way the City Council would raise a tax from 7.75% to 17.75%. But, with little fanfare and with all council members in concurrence, it was passed.

Since then, I have had more time to look at the issue. I was stunned when I read these comments from the city’s director of finance in the Aug. 16 edition of the Federal Way Mirror:

“Ariwoola said the tax increase would not be put directly onto citizens, and instead the tax would only apply towards solid waste collection organizations.

“However, he said the city could not control if the solid waste collection agencies passed this tax along to consumers.”

Is he serious? Who does he think has been paying the tax? This is the city’s finance director. Does he understand how the city’s utility taxing system works?

Next, how can the council impose a new tax on proposed rates? We the ratepayers have to just take the city’s Public Works director’s word that the “average” person will see a $9.13 drop on their bill. What is the average based on? Does that also include a drop in the service level as has been done in Des Moines and Kent, in regards to yard waste? That service was switched from weekly to once every two weeks.

I question some of the numbers the city spokesperson and the Public Works director are citing as to the impact by Waste Management trucks to the city streets. The trucks used to do the pickup in the neighborhood don’t weigh 80,000 pounds. According to the Waste Management site I was on, the trucks used are 33,000 pounds (16.5 tons) empty with a capacity of 18,000 pounds (nine tons) for a total of 51,000 (25.5 tons) loaded.

Using these numbers and using the average weight of a car as 3,000 pounds (two-and-a-half tons), the impact to city streets would be about 1,100 versus 1,500 as claimed per year, per truck.

I’m sure the impact of all the UPS, Fedex, Amazon, and USPS trucks making deliveries on residential streets has to be as great of an impact. They are up and down my street six days a week. To assign an increase to just one subset of ratepayers seems unfair and smacks of taking the path of least resistance.

I find it interesting that that state law sets no limits on water, sewer, or solid waste utility tax rates and they chose that path on a weak argument of Waste Management truck weight. Really, the contract has been in effect for 18 years and city leaders are just now realizing truck weight concerns?

T.J. Brennan

Federal Way

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