20/20 vision for the 30th annual State of the City

Federal Way mayor rolls out the city’s “30 for 30” campaign; addresses permitting, crime statistics and more.

Federal Way celebrated its 30th birthday on Feb. 28, a milestone that was widely applauded at the mayor’s 30th annual State of the City address, along with cake in the Performing Arts and Event Center lobby.

Mayor Jim Ferrell, in front of a packed auditorium on Feb. 27, told Federal Way residents about the vision he has for the city in 2020 and beyond. To go along with the 20/20 vision theme of the evening, city staff handed out 3-D glasses for audience members to use during Ferrell’s presentation.

His speech focused on the city’s major accomplishments in the last decade, and his goals for the city in the next one.

“Federal Way has its 20/20 vision fixed on the future,” he said.

Ferrell has been saying for years that he believes the future of Federal Way lies in their downtown core, and this year’s State of the City was no different.

“I believe the future of this city starts in the downtown core,” he said. “To that end, I want to announce the formation of the 2050 Initiative.”

This will involve gathering key community stakeholders to discuss the future envisioned for Federal Way decades into the future.

A large part of the city’s changing townscape will be Sound Transit bringing in the Link lightrail, connecting Federal Way to downtown Seattle. Ferrell also addressed the impending Operations and Maintenance Facility Sound Transit wants to put in this area, with two of the final three locations under consideration in Federal Way.

“I and my policy partners on the City Council will continue to do all we can to persuade Sound Transit to locate the OMF site on the former Midway Landfill in Kent,” he said. “We believe that the three sites initially chosen in city limits are not the right locations for this facility.”

Ferrell has both long-term and short-term goals for the city, and one of those short-term goals include quality of life for residents. And as part of increasing quality of life, Ferrell introduced the city’s “30 for 30” campaign.

“We’re asking each resident to contribute 30 minutes of volunteerism in 2020 to celebrate our city’s 30th birthday.”

The city created a website for residents to see what volunteer opportunities are available, anything from picking up litter along the street to helping with city beautification projects.

“We envision countless Federal Way residents and friends joining together to celebrate our city by making our community a better place,” the mayor said. “We hope you’ll catch that vision and join us.”

Another focus of Ferrell’s speech was on helping the community become more connected with their government.

“We rolled out a plan just weeks ago in cooperation with King County to host a Vote Center at City Hall, which will offer same-day voter registration, the option to vote in-person, or to pick up a replacement ballot,” he told the audience. “Our site will be operational for eight days prior to the March presidential primary, the August primary and the Nov. 3 election.”

Hand in hand with trying to make city government more accessible, soon there will be a phone app that will allow residents to report anything they see in the community like litter, shopping carts, graffiti and more.

Along with some of the grand visions Ferrell has for Federal Way’s future, he also touched on the city’s acccomplishments in the last year. He boasted of the city’s Public Works Department, noting some of the projects the city had accomplished.

“One of the larger accomplishments the department completed in 2019 was the completion of the new solid waste contract with Waste Management,” he said. “This success creates a savings of $10 per month for the average household over the proposed rates, which amounts to about $120 dollars per year.”

This contract will go into effect in September, and is expected to generate $1.5 million in revenue to support the street overlay program.

Ferrell also supported the Community Development Department, citing the permits the city approve for the three elementary schools Federal Way Public Schools is building to showcase how the city is helping increase quality of life for the community.

The permitting process for the schools drew controversy in December 2019 after the school openings were delayed, which set back the construction projects by at least a year and will cost the district upwards of $10 million.

In total the city issued over 4,000 permits in 2019, resulting in more than $230 million worth of projects.

Ferrell also touched on the new web-based projects dashboard where people can check on the status of all active projects in the city.

Despite some community members’ outrage over the police department’s release of lowered crime data, Ferrell supported the statistics, celebrating that overall crime was down 9% from 2018. Residents have voiced concerns about these numbers after an influx of violent crime, particularly towards the end of 2019 and continuing into 2020.

Ferrell said these numbers tell an encouraging story, “one of great strides.”

“These numbers represent the lowest crime rate since Federal Way transitioned from the old Uniform Crime Reports system to the National Incident-Based Reporting System in 2012,” he said. “ We’ve seen a reduction in overall crime for three consecutive years and five out of the past six years.”

However, Ferrell does not want to settle for these numbers.

“Looking forward, the Federal Way Police Department will be applying for the Department of Justice grant, COPS Hiring Program, in 2020 to increase the total police officer allocation to 140.”

He also touched on the city’s budget, and how leaving SCORE has already proven to be a good decision for Federal Way.

“Our city’s financial picture is one in sharp focus,” he said. “The city has maintained a structurally balanced budget for the past six years.”

Ferrell said that after the city’s jail budget increased over 170%, it was a smart decision that he and policymakers made to utilize other jail locations and leave the agreement.

“This projects to be an annual savings of more than $2 million,” he said. “As you can see, leaving SCORE was, indeed, a farsighted decision that will greatly benefit the city’s financial position.”

A full livestream of the State of the City is available on Ferrell’s Facebook page.