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Kent City Council approves state, federal lobbyist contracts

The Kent City Council renewed contracts for state and federal lobbyists who play a large role to help bring funds to the city.

The council approved an one-year contract on Dec. 11 for $66,000 with Outcomes by Levy to lobby the state Legislature. The council also approved a one-year contract for $56,000 with the firm Van Ness Feldman to work as a federal lobbyist.

Doug Levy, who runs Outcomes by Levy, has worked as a contract lobbyist in Olympia for Kent since 2000. He also contracts as a lobbyist for five other cities.

In 2011, Levy had a $66,000 contract with Kent. His other contracts included Everett at $66,000; Redmond, $61,200; Federal Way, $52,800; and Renton at $51,000, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. He also had contracts for $27,800 with the Washington Recreation and Parks Association and for $17,000 with the Recreational Boating Association.

Levy's total compensation in 2011 hit $391,000. He received another $18,000 in personal expenses, including $2,700 from Kent.

"Mr. Levy has proven himself to be extremely effective in advancing Kent's legislative agenda and has accumulated a great deal of expertise and knowledge regarding issues of importance to Kent," according to a city staff report to the council.

Michelle Wilmot, city community and public affairs director, told the council's Operations Committee at its meeting last month that Levy has brought in more than $100 million to the city.

Over the past few years, Levy has helped the city receive a $10 million state grant to rebuild the Horseshoe Bend levee; worked on legislation to help fund the ShoWare Center through a portion of the state sales tax returned to the city; helped acquire funds for transportation projects such as railroad-grade separations to improve freight mobility through the city so that trucks no longer have to wait at train crossings; helped make sure that Kent received mitigation funds after the state adopted the streamlined sales tax and receive an annexation sales tax rebate to help pay for the Panther Lake annexation.

Levy's duties for the city include:

• Assist with issue identification and meetings with Kent legislators prior to the legislative session.

• Continue to monitor and identify problems and opportunities for Kent on issues under consideration by various state legislative bodies including group meetings on transportation, fiscal resources, endangered species listings and other state agency activities.

• Monitor and report legislation of concern to Kent during the legislative session, working with the mayor's office to provide regular status reports and to advocate for Kent on relevant issues.

• Assist with issue identification, opportunities for Kent and advocacy efforts with Kent's federal representatives.

• Assist with pursuit of funding for Kent projects, particularly at the state and federal levels.

Levy, who lives in Kenmore, graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree and worked several years as a newspaper reporter in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver before switching to government work. He worked as the city of Everett government affairs director from 1994 to 1999 before branching out on his own.

The council approved a federal lobbyist contract with Van Ness Feldman, a law firm with offices in Seattle and Washington, D.C. The firm is hired to lobby the state's Congressional delegation. The city's contract last year was set at $90,000.

Ben Wolters, city community and economic development director, told the Operations Committee that Van Ness Feldman, represented by Ben McMakin, will lobby to support repairs and certification of the Green River levees. The firm also will seek federal funding for the levee system through the Water Resources Development Act and other potential funding sources.

McMakin has worked in Washington, D.C., with Van Ness Feldman since 2005. He previously worked about 10 years as a legislative director and assistant with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Other assignments for the firm will include trying to get funding for railroad grade separations; freight mobility and transit projects; Green River ecosystem restoration; and to restore Human Service and Community Development block grant funding.

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