Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Economic Development’ Category

“Donut Hole” sale could bring more growth to Maple Valley

by August 5th, 2011

The “Donut Hole” is up for sale. And if King County sells it, the City of Maple Valley could become 156.5 acres larger by the end of the year and gain housing and jobs.

It is a somewhat tricky proposition, though. If King County can successfully relocate the regional roads maintenance facility on a land parcel it owns called “the Donut Hole” at 228th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 272nd Street, then new development there could bring more housing, jobs, or both to the City of Maple Valley. Energized by the county’s recent call for qualified developers of the 156.5-acre spread, the city council will hold a public hearing for pre-annexation zoning at its August 22 meeting. The city could annex the property whether or not it is redeveloped, but it must allow the county to keep the roads facility there if a planned new location at the site of the current Cascade Shooting Facilities in Ravensdale does not garner required environmental permits.

Complicating the situation is whether or not developers can step forward, with feasible, well-financed proposals for the Donut Hole. If the King County cannot sell the property, it may have less reason to bear the expense of vacating the land and relocating the roads facility.

Puyallup construction company wins $35 million defense contract

by July 25th, 2011

The U.S. Department of Defense announced recently that Puyallup, Wash. company Absher Construction has won a $35,275,888 contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu, to build an enlisted personnel housing facility at the U.S. Army’s Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. The barracks are a 102-year-old installation and home to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division. The company will construct two five-story buildings, each with 100 dwelling units. Absher will work in conjunction with Tetra Tech, of Seattle, the project architect. Absher’s Web site says the total project cost is $74 million. This is not the first U.S. defense contract for Absher. The company has won several separate contracts of more than $40 million apiece to build barracks at Fort Lewis in Pierce County, Wash. and is currently working on a $71 million Bachelors Enlisted Quarters and Parking Facility at Naval Station Kitsap in Bremerton, Wash.

The Department of Defense’s military contract announcements database reveals more.

Keynes And Hayek Throwing Down – Round Two

by May 4th, 2011 has done it again. Experience this new rap video starring the theories of “prime the pump” government stimulus theorist John Maynard Keynes versus the laissez-faire free market views of Frederick Hayek. The staging in what looks like a U.S. Senate or House committee hearing room is perfect, and the extras play their parts to a T. The intro is pretty funny, as Keynes gets a hero’s welcome from the security guard and is waved through the metal detector even though he sets it off. Hayek gets a very different welcome but is finally let into the ring. The econo-rappers state their opening arguments well, but it’s at 4:26 – after a brief joust over the lessons of WW II U.S. stimulus spending – that the flow really emanates. Here’s the whole thing.

One set of money verses:

Keynes: “My solution is simple and easy to handle. It’s spending that matters, why is that such a scandal? The money sloshes trough the pipes and the sluices, revitalizing the economy’s juices. It’s just like an engine that’s stalled and done dark. To bring it to life, we need a quick spark.”

Hayek: “Spending’s not free, that’s the heart of the matter. Too much is wasted as cronies get fatter…. The economy’s not a car; there’s no engine to stall. No expert can fix it, there’s no ‘ít’ at all. The economy’s us, we don’t need a mechanic. Put away the wrenches, the economy’s organic.”

And another.

Keynes: “So what would you do to help those unemployed? This is the question you seem to avoid. When we’re in a mess, would you have us just wait? Doing nothing, until markets equil-i-brate?”

Hayek: “Ï don’t want to do nothing, there’s plenty to do. The question I ponder is who plans for who? Do I plan for myself, or leave it to you? I want plans by the many, not by the few.”

They take it deeper, but never lose the Plain English thread. What a teaching tool. High school and college teachers of economics, political science and communications will find this a great addition to the curriculum.

Props to creators John Papola and Russ Roberts, and to Billy Scafoli as Keynes and Adam Lustick as Hayek.

Sammamish Mulls Writing Off Developers’ Bad Debt

by April 11th, 2011

SUMMARY: The City Council of Sammamish April 12 will consider a proposed resolution to write off $113,309.55 in bad debts from approximately 30 developers who prior to 2010 didn’t pay service fees owed to the city. For these accounts, reminder letters and collection agency efforts have failed. The resolution would also authorize the city manager to write off future bad debts of up to $10,000 per account after all reasonable efforts to collect have been made.

BACKGROUND: Before 2010, developer fees to the city for public works department review time and for inspections of new projects were billed after construction, with 80 percent paying upon invoice and 20 percent paying late or failing to pay. Starting in 2010, the city began requiring developers to pay up front for all project-related fees. The city has continued trying to collect remaining developer fees owed and has succeeded in some instances but not in others. According to the draft resolution, factors contributing to the bad debts include the economic downturn, foreclosures, and bankruptcies.

KEY LINKS: Uncollectible Accounts Receivable, Staff Memo, City of Sammamish, April 12, 2011

Draft resolution authorizing current and future write-off of bad debt, City of Sammamish, April 12, 2011.


  • The city had $376,614.18 in unpaid developer fees dating to before 2010. Of that, $214,681.31 has been collected or adjusted, with another $48,623.32 under review, or to be collected under a payment plan.
  • In a memo to the city manager, the city’s finance director recommends that the balance of the pre-2010 unpaid developer fees owed to the city, $113,309.55, be written off as uncollectible. In the memo the finance director states that a significant amount of staff time has been devoted to collections in the past three years and for these delinquent accounts, reminder letters and collections agency efforts have not yielded payments. The debts that would be classified as uncollectible are distributed among approximately 30 accounts that have been unpaid for more than a year.
  • A resolution to be discussed at a study session of the city council April 12, and voted upon as soon as the council’s April 18 meeting, would approve the write-off of the current bad debts, and give the city manager authority to write off future bad debts of up to $10,000 per account after all reasonable attempts have been made to collect.

The city council study session April 12 begins at 6:30 p.m. at Sammamish City Hall, 801 228th Ave. SE. (Directions).

CBO Director Stresses Rising Public Debt, Taxes, Spending

by March 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: In a public presentation and official blog post last week, U.S. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas W. Elmendorf warned of rising U.S. public debt. It hit $9 trillion or 62 percent of Gross Domestic Product at year-end 2010, and is projected by the CBO to rise to at least 77 percent of GDP by 2021, or nearly 100 percent if certain current tax breaks are extended, raising the risk of a national fiscal crisis. Elmendorf stated that the growing public debt, driven by deficit spending, necessitates hard decisions by Congress about federal budget and tax policies – in order to reverse course and stimulate income growth and investment while maximizing the benefits of federal spending. He stressed that eliminating waste and inefficiency will not be enough to get the nation’s fiscal house in order and accented the recommendations of the Presidentially-appointed National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, that Congress should cut spending on federal health care programs, defense, agriculture, and military and civil service retirement, while also ending selected federal tax breaks. He recommends Congress aim to settle on the needed fiscal reforms in the near-term – even if they are implemented more gradually – in order to help stabilize the economy.

Know Your Government: WA Energy Facility Site Council

by February 24th, 2011

WHO, WHAT, WHY: The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council was created by the legislature in 1970 to consolidate state agency reviews of proposals for new or expanded energy facilities, needed for deciding whether or not they will get official permits for construction and operation. The council issues or denies energy facility permits with authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under federal clean water and air laws. The council’s portfolio includes proposals for large natural gas and oil pipelines, larger electric plants, and new oil refineries. Alternative energy projects involving proposals for wind, solar, tidal, biomass or geothermal power facilities may opt for Council review of their plans. (Hydro-electric power facilities in Washington state are not regulated by the council; they are overseen by a separate federal agency called the Bonneville Power Agency.) The Council’s chairperson is appointed by the Governor, and the five members represent the Washington state departments of Commerce, Ecology, Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources, and the Utilities and Transportation Commission.

CURRENT WORK HIGHLIGHTS: The council has one proposal currently for which approval is being sought: the Whistling Ridge Energy Project, of up to 50 wind turbines on 1,152 acres of forested land on Saddleback Mountain in Skamania County.

Four more facilities it oversees are already licensed, permitted and operating. They are:

King County Is Hiring

by February 22nd, 2011

SUMMARY: King County, Wash. provides an online jobs data bank and an online job application tool for its open positions. At this writing, the county is accepting applications for 41 different jobs, ranging in pay from $18.37 to $23.28 per hour for an administrative specialist to do Chinese translations, all the way up to $119,000 to $151,000 per year for a new road services director in the county’s transportation department. Positions are open for registered nurses, a dentist, an accountant, interpreters, transit engineers, a court administrator, software developers, and in animal control, human resources, business and finance, communications, community corrections, veterinary medicine, purchasing, licensing, industrial maintenance, and more.

KEY LINK: King County Jobs – Job Openings With King County, Washington Government, King County Human Resources Division.


  • The King County job openings data bank provides continuously updated online job listings and allows candidates to submit applications online once they have registered for a free account. Make sure to first read Application Tips and Instructions For New Applicants.
  • The online county job listings have six columns and by clicking on the small arrow in the left margin of the appropriate column you can re-arrange the jobs by salary (lowest to highest); closing date (from most current, going forward); alphabetically by job category, department or title; or by whether the job is open to all applicants or only current county employees.
  • To get a full job description, click on the hyperlinked blue text in the “Job Title” column. (Note: Some jobs labelled on the main page chart as open to all applicants actually state a preference, in the job description, for county employees and members of specified labor unions. But many do not.)
  • Each job description includes recommended qualifications, and in the upper-right-hand corner, a link labelled Apply. After clicking on Apply, you will be guided to open a free online account if you haven’t already. Then you can fill out and submit the online application for the job.
  • A decision will take four weeks to several months. Using your account, you can log in and click on Application Status for more information.

King County Jobs online data bank


You can also sign up to receive King County job notifications by e-mail, in selected categories.

The Public Sector Jobs resource page provided by the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs provides links to a wide range of government jobs pages, in Central Puget Sound, the Western U.S. and nationally.