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Response to ‘Federal Way initiative to increase taxes ‘missing transparency’’

Investment in our city’s infrastructure is critical for the long-term livability of Federal Way.

This is a response to a letter that was published in the Mirror’s Aug. 2 edition.

The Public Works Department has a great history of securing grants to leverage city funding. It’s something we are very proud of, and that success provides a huge benefit to our residents. That said, over time grant funding has remained steady to slightly decreasing during each grant cycle. Additionally, it is also almost always required to be spent on main arterial roads, as is the case with many National Highway System grants. That precludes our ability to repair and maintain residential streets.

During the proposal process for the new solid waste contract, city staff negotiated alternatives with the selected hauler, Waste Management, to save the average household $13.61 per month from the proposed rates. The new contract takes effect in September of 2020. In conjunction with the new contract, an increase in the excise tax rate of 10% was proposed, which is anticipated to generate $1.5 million to fund the street overlay program. Even with the increase in excise tax, there is still a $9.81-per-month savings for the average household over the proposed rates – which amounts to about $120 per year.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the last solid waste contract was awarded in 2001, and the industry as a whole has evolved quite a bit since then.

These excise tax funds, which double our investment in our roads, are targeted to neighborhood roads which receive the most damage from garbage trucks, hence a restriction that a minimum of 70% be used on residential streets.

Investment in our city’s infrastructure is critical for the long-term livability of Federal Way. To achieve that prospect while still keeping solid waste disposal rates low for residents, this is a win-win for Federal Way.

EJ Walsh

Public Works director

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