Monday, February 14, 2011

Release - State Proposal for Liquor Profit Sharing Endangers Federal Way Public Safety

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February 4, 2011

Skip Priest 
Federal Way Mayor 
Brian Wilson 
Chief of Police 

State Proposal for Liquor Profit Sharing Endangers Federal Way Public Safety 

A proposal in the State Senate to shift a portion of state liquor profit-sharing from local governments will seriously harm Federal Way public safety. City officials expressed concern that the proposal would take more than $100,000 from the Federal Way police budget and impact staffing levels.

“This proposal would have the equivalent impact of taking one police officer off the streets of Federal Way,” said Mayor Skip Priest, a former State Legislator. “The unintended consequence here would be to make it harder for our city to keep its citizens safe.”

Under existing law, the state’s liquor monopoly must provide a share of liquor profits to local law enforcement who are responsible for policing liquor-related problems. The Senate proposal, part of a package of amendments to the Supplemental Budget, SHB 1086, would shift a portion of the liquor profit-sharing from local communities to the Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

Currently, the City of Federal Way receives approximately $650,000 a year from liquor profitsharing, an ongoing amount that is calculated according to population. The proposed Senate amendment would cost the city approximately $101,500 during 2011.

The city recently saved 18 police officer positions while closing a $9 million budget deficit for 2011-2012. Police Chief Brian Wilson noted that the city is projecting a $5 million budget gap for 2013-2014, and the raid on the liquor profit-sharing fund would set a precedent that legislators may be tempted to revisit again.

“These are funds specifically dedicated to help local communities address the real crime impacts of the state selling liquor in our community. It can’t be seen as a piggy bank to break for balancing the budget,” said Chief Wilson. “Dedicated funds support officer positions as well as essential infrastructure. Public safety will suffer under the proposed amendment.”

The Senate may entertain the Senate Striking Amendment as early as Friday afternoon. If it does pass, the measure would need to be reconciled in the House version of the budget.


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