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A2 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 69 2011 THE ISSAQUAH PRESS Unclaimed customer rebates prompt Costco to sue state By Warren Kagarise lssaquah Press reporter Costco filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Revenue in early March, after the agency ordered the Issaquah-based warehouse club to pay $3.2 mil- lion in unclaimed customer rebates. The complaint in King County Superior Court came about a month after the state directed Costco to pay into a state fund for unclaimed property. Costco paid the money, but is seeking to recoup the dollars in the lawsuit. The amount repre- sents unclaimed rebates from the years 2004 to 2010, plus interest. "The department's action not only harms Washington con- sumers, but also sets a toxic recedent for any individual or usiness the department decides to subject to future demands for 'unclaimed property,'" the lawsuit states. Under state law, uncashed rebate checks constitute unclaimed property. The order for Costco to pay the $3.2 million came after the Department of Revenue audited Costco's customer-rebate program. In the complaint, Costco attor- neys said the company relies on third-party companies to handle rebate programs. The attorneys said the agency used third-party records to calcu- late the $3.2 million figure. "Costco disagrees that it is obli- gated to pay any of the amount that the state asserts is due, let alone the entire amount assessed, and it disagrees with the demand letter and accompanying agency actions on the grounds that they are arbitrary and capricious," John Sullivan, Costco vice presi- dent and associate general coun- sel, wrote in a March 2 letter to the state. The letter accompanied a $3.2 million check delivered to a Department of Revenue field office in Kent. Costco attorneys also objected to how the state notified the com- pany about the payment. "In a terse statement coupled with nearly 4,000 pages of records that Costco had never seen before, the letter demanded that Costco 'report and remit' over $3 million in less than 30 days' time," the lawsuit states. Costco employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpress, com. Mobile office coming to city The Mobile Community Services Office is coming to Issaquah from 2-5 p.m. April 12 at Issaquah Community Hall, 180 Sunset Way. The 40-foot truck is staffed by experienced financial workers who are able to handle cash, food and medical interviews. They can also issue Electronic Benefits Transfer cards for food stamps, and receive documents. The truck, run by the state Department of Social and Health Services, will visit the community hall during the Issaquah meal program. Studded tire deadline extended Motorists can keep studded tires on vehicles until April 7 -- or face a ticket after the deadline -- because the state Department of Transportation has extended the deadline to remove the win- ter-weather gear. Issaquah Press readers are invited to participate in a Community Conversation Group Times are changing! Tell us how you read the paper, what you read often, what you'd like to see added, how your reading habits have changed, and more. Our goal is to continue being your No. 1 choice for local news! Thursday, April 14, 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, April 15, 1-2:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served/ 12 readers per group will be invited to participate. Those not selected will be asked to participate in an online survey. Apply online at www.issaquahpress.com Click on the link on the home page. PRESS Fred Butler announces re-election campaign By Warren Kagarlse Issaquah Press reporter Longtime Councilman Fred Buffer, a respected authority on regional transit issues, announced plans March 29 to run for a fourth term. The incumbent candidate, a Squak Mountain resident and a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined the City Council more than a decade ago, and served on the board as Issaquah experienced a population boom. "I want to continue to serve the citizens of Issaquah and the region with my enthusiasm, ener- gy and experience to make Issaquah a better place," he said in a statement. "I am committed to working collaboratively to solve problems. I pledge to work hard, listen and help when I can. Buffer, a Sound Transit board member, served last year on a regional effort to guide King County Metro Transit service in the decades ahead. In addition, County Executive-elect Dew Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the tran- sition team as Constantine shifted from the County Council to the top county office in 2009. On the Issaquah council, Butler serves as deputy council president, the No. 2 position on the board. In the campaign announcement, he referenced the accomplish- ments the council achieved in the past year, as well as upcoming milestones for the city, including the scheduled opening of a Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands. "While I want to continue to focus on transit, there are a num- ber of other significant issues where I can help shape the vision and future of Issaquah," he contin- ued. "Several that come to mind are the Central Issaquah Plan, the reServation of Park Pointe, and cilitating the integration of Swedish hospital and Bellevue College into our community." Butler filed as a candidate with the state Public Disclosure Commission last month and announced intentions to run for re- election at the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah meeting March 23. So far, he has $2,037 in his campaign account. In addition to Buffer's seat, the council seats held by Council President John Traeger, Councilman Joshua Schaer and appointed Councilwoman Stacy Goodman appear on the November bal- lot. Schaer announced plans last month to run for re-election, but no other Fred BiitJer candidate has stepped forward. Candidates must file to run in Issaquah and other races by June 10. The electorate chose Buffer for the council in 1999, and he cruised to re-election in 2003 and 2007. Butler outpaced then-Planning Policy Commission member Bryan Weinstein in a landslide in the November 2007 council election. State Public Disclosure Commission records show Buffer raised $6,524 in the race, com- pared to the $1,640 raised by Weinstein. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress, com. Campus: Construction price tags vary FROM PAGE A1 people have stresses or serious mental-health issues. A human services campus is ideal for all communities, and serves individu- als and families of every stripe." Cost for campus could vary The price tags Rittenhouse and Mauk presented range from $1 million for a lease to $11 million to build a 20,000-square-foot facility, though the total cost could change ff,a donor offers land or a building to the project. Other options outlined in the study include $8.2 million to purchase and r6novam a 3,,000-aquaro-foot apace or $4.3 million to do the same to a 16,000-square-foot space. The study presents leasing a site as the least-costly option. Organizers could rent 16,000 square feet for $1 million or 32,000 square feet for $1.8 million. "Our consultants tell us if we have a site in mind, it's a much eas- ier fundraisingeffort," Rittenhouse said. So, when we talk about securing a site and securing the idea of a site -- something that can be presented to fundraisers -- makes it a much more compelling story and makes it much easier." Organizers said the Together Center is pursuing partners to share in the cost and reaching out to community members to launch the fundraising campaign. "The major takeaway from the study is that each scenario can work well, depending on whether property or funds are raised, and at what level," Rittenhouse said. Issaquah leaders earmarked $1 million to the project in 2008 and, so far, authorized $35,000 from the fund to complete the feasibility study. (If the human services campus does not come to fruition, the back- up plan is to use the money for affordable housing.) Study alleviates concerns Organizers enlisted The NonprofitCenters Network, a San Francisco-based consultant, to conduct the study. Consultants interviewed Mayor Ava Frisinger, council members and municipal staffers as part of the process. "I was very, very concerned about the study initially, Councilman Fred Buffer said after the presentation, as city Human Services Commission members and representatives from nonprof- it organizations sat in the audi- ence. "We had lots of conversations around the scope and everything, but I'm delighted that you're beginning to identify some anchor tenants that would be interested." The proposed Issaquah campus attracted interest from !4 organi- zaU0na m a promary uey. Many more nonprofit organiza- tions also requested additional information about the project. Organizations plan for the cam- pus to be open to human services groups and other nonprofit organi- zations. "This expanded scope will pro- vide added benefits, and provide flexibility over time to meet needs as they develop," Rittenhouse said. The campus is meant to focus uncoordinated human services programs in Issaquah. "Whether looking at homeless- hess or addiction, one-stop access to services is important," Mauk said. Moreover, organizations located at the campus could share office equipment and facilities -- and reduce operating costs. Mauk said a nonprofit campus keeps lease rates as low as possible. The campus concept could also help clients using public trans- portation, ff the facility is near bus routes. "Transportation barriers are particularly difficult for low- income people, but all people ben- efit from garnering help at one location with easy access, lots of expertise and cross referrals," Mauk said. Organizers said a pressing demand exists for such a campus in Issaquah, especially amid human service cutbacks from county and state governments. Of the 67,000 people served at the Together Center in 2009, the figure included 1,186 Issaquah residents. From the study, "we learned Issaquah has a much higher level of poverty than many of us may be aware," Mauk said at the meeting. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpress, com. HUMAN SERVICES CAMPUSTIMEUNE The push to open a human services campus in Issaquah started in early 2006. Since then, community leaders and elected officials embarked on a detailed process to turn the campus from a vision into reality. 2006 Initial discussions begin about how the city can help Eastside Baby Corner, Issaquah Valley Community Services and other nonprofit organizations meet space needs. Organizers send a survey to 45 nonprofit organizations, and 15 agencies report immediate or possible interest in the Issaquah campus. 2007 The city Economic Vitality Task Force endorses the human servic- es campus concept for Issaquah. Organizers vote to put the Issaquah campus under the legal umbrella of the Family Resource Center, a nonprofit Redmond human services campus. 2008 City Council members earmark $1 million in impact fees paid by the Talus developer for the human services campus. 2009 The city Human Services Commission recommends the city join the Family Resource Center to conduct a feasibility study. The council later allots $35,000 to the center to conduct the study. 2010 The Family Resource Center releases the results of a survey of local nonproflts to gauge interest in the campus. 2011 Organizers deliver the complet- ed feasibility study to the council, and outline plans to select a site and raise funds. Sources: City of lssaquah, The Issaquah Press archives A2 WEDNESDAY, APRIL 69 2011 THE ISSAQUAH PRESS Unclaimed customer rebates prompt Costco to sue state By Warren Kagarise lssaquah Press reporter Costco filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Revenue in early March, after the agency ordered the Issaquah-based warehouse club to pay $3.2 mil- lion in unclaimed customer rebates. The complaint in King County Superior Court came about a month after the state directed Costco to pay into a state fund for unclaimed property. Costco paid the money, but is seeking to recoup the dollars in the lawsuit. The amount repre- sents unclaimed rebates from the years 2004 to 2010, plus interest. "The department's action not only harms Washington con- sumers, but also sets a toxic recedent for any individual or usiness the department decides to subject to future demands for 'unclaimed property,'" the lawsuit states. Under state law, uncashed rebate checks constitute unclaimed property. The order for Costco to pay the $3.2 million came after the Department of Revenue audited Costco's customer-rebate program. In the complaint, Costco attor- neys said the company relies on third-party companies to handle rebate programs. The attorneys said the agency used third-party records to calcu- late the $3.2 million figure. "Costco disagrees that it is obli- gated to pay any of the amount that the state asserts is due, let alone the entire amount assessed, and it disagrees with the demand letter and accompanying agency actions on the grounds that they are arbitrary and capricious," John Sullivan, Costco vice presi- dent and associate general coun- sel, wrote in a March 2 letter to the state. The letter accompanied a $3.2 million check delivered to a Department of Revenue field office in Kent. Costco attorneys also objected to how the state notified the com- pany about the payment. "In a terse statement coupled with nearly 4,000 pages of records that Costco had never seen before, the letter demanded that Costco 'report and remit' over $3 million in less than 30 days' time," the lawsuit states. Costco employs 2,700 people in Issaquah, more than any other business. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpress, com. Mobile office coming to city The Mobile Community Services Office is coming to Issaquah from 2-5 p.m. April 12 at Issaquah Community Hall, 180 Sunset Way. The 40-foot truck is staffed by experienced financial workers who are able to handle cash, food and medical interviews. They can also issue Electronic Benefits Transfer cards for food stamps, and receive documents. The truck, run by the state Department of Social and Health Services, will visit the community hall during the Issaquah meal program. Studded tire deadline extended Motorists can keep studded tires on vehicles until April 7 -- or face a ticket after the deadline -- because the state Department of Transportation has extended the deadline to remove the win- ter-weather gear. Issaquah Press readers are invited to participate in a Community Conversation Group Times are changing! Tell us how you read the paper, what you read often, what you'd like to see added, how your reading habits have changed, and more. Our goal is to continue being your No. 1 choice for local news! Thursday, April 14, 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, April 15, 1-2:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served/ 12 readers per group will be invited to participate. Those not selected will be asked to participate in an online survey. Apply online at www.issaquahpress.com Click on the link on the home page. PRESS Fred Butler announces re-election campaign By Warren Kagarlse Issaquah Press reporter Longtime Councilman Fred Buffer, a respected authority on regional transit issues, announced plans March 29 to run for a fourth term. The incumbent candidate, a Squak Mountain resident and a retired U.S. Army colonel, joined the City Council more than a decade ago, and served on the board as Issaquah experienced a population boom. "I want to continue to serve the citizens of Issaquah and the region with my enthusiasm, ener- gy and experience to make Issaquah a better place," he said in a statement. "I am committed to working collaboratively to solve problems. I pledge to work hard, listen and help when I can. Buffer, a Sound Transit board member, served last year on a regional effort to guide King County Metro Transit service in the decades ahead. In addition, County Executive-elect Dew Constantine tapped Butler to serve on the tran- sition team as Constantine shifted from the County Council to the top county office in 2009. On the Issaquah council, Butler serves as deputy council president, the No. 2 position on the board. In the campaign announcement, he referenced the accomplish- ments the council achieved in the past year, as well as upcoming milestones for the city, including the scheduled opening of a Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands. "While I want to continue to focus on transit, there are a num- ber of other significant issues where I can help shape the vision and future of Issaquah," he contin- ued. "Several that come to mind are the Central Issaquah Plan, the reServation of Park Pointe, and cilitating the integration of Swedish hospital and Bellevue College into our community." Butler filed as a candidate with the state Public Disclosure Commission last month and announced intentions to run for re- election at the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah meeting March 23. So far, he has $2,037 in his campaign account. In addition to Buffer's seat, the council seats held by Council President John Traeger, Councilman Joshua Schaer and appointed Councilwoman Stacy Goodman appear on the November bal- lot. Schaer announced plans last month to run for re-election, but no other Fred BiitJer candidate has stepped forward. Candidates must file to run in Issaquah and other races by June 10. The electorate chose Buffer for the council in 1999, and he cruised to re-election in 2003 and 2007. Butler outpaced then-Planning Policy Commission member Bryan Weinstein in a landslide in the November 2007 council election. State Public Disclosure Commission records show Buffer raised $6,524 in the race, com- pared to the $1,640 raised by Weinstein. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress, com. Campus: Construction price tags vary FROM PAGE A1 people have stresses or serious mental-health issues. A human services campus is ideal for all communities, and serves individu- als and families of every stripe." Cost for campus could vary The price tags Rittenhouse and Mauk presented range from $1 million for a lease to $11 million to build a 20,000-square-foot facility, though the total cost could change ff,a donor offers land or a building to the project. Other options outlined in the study include $8.2 million to purchase and r6novam a 3,,000-aquaro-foot apace or $4.3 million to do the same to a 16,000-square-foot space. The study presents leasing a site as the least-costly option. Organizers could rent 16,000 square feet for $1 million or 32,000 square feet for $1.8 million. "Our consultants tell us if we have a site in mind, it's a much eas- ier fundraisingeffort," Rittenhouse said. So, when we talk about securing a site and securing the idea of a site -- something that can be presented to fundraisers -- makes it a much more compelling story and makes it much easier." Organizers said the Together Center is pursuing partners to share in the cost and reaching out to community members to launch the fundraising campaign. "The major takeaway from the study is that each scenario can work well, depending on whether property or funds are raised, and at what level," Rittenhouse said. Issaquah leaders earmarked $1 million to the project in 2008 and, so far, authorized $35,000 from the fund to complete the feasibility study. (If the human services campus does not come to fruition, the back- up plan is to use the money for affordable housing.) Study alleviates concerns Organizers enlisted The NonprofitCenters Network, a San Francisco-based consultant, to conduct the study. Consultants interviewed Mayor Ava Frisinger, council members and municipal staffers as part of the process. "I was very, very concerned about the study initially, Councilman Fred Buffer said after the presentation, as city Human Services Commission members and representatives from nonprof- it organizations sat in the audi- ence. "We had lots of conversations around the scope and everything, but I'm delighted that you're beginning to identify some anchor tenants that would be interested." The proposed Issaquah campus attracted interest from !4 organi- zaU0na m a promary uey. Many more nonprofit organiza- tions also requested additional information about the project. Organizations plan for the cam- pus to be open to human services groups and other nonprofit organi- zations. "This expanded scope will pro- vide added benefits, and provide flexibility over time to meet needs as they develop," Rittenhouse said. The campus is meant to focus uncoordinated human services programs in Issaquah. "Whether looking at homeless- hess or addiction, one-stop access to services is important," Mauk said. Moreover, organizations located at the campus could share office equipment and facilities -- and reduce operating costs. Mauk said a nonprofit campus keeps lease rates as low as possible. The campus concept could also help clients using public trans- portation, ff the facility is near bus routes. "Transportation barriers are particularly difficult for low- income people, but all people ben- efit from garnering help at one location with easy access, lots of expertise and cross referrals," Mauk said. Organizers said a pressing demand exists for such a campus in Issaquah, especially amid human service cutbacks from county and state governments. Of the 67,000 people served at the Together Center in 2009, the figure included 1,186 Issaquah residents. From the study, "we learned Issaquah has a much higher level of poverty than many of us may be aware," Mauk said at the meeting. Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www. issaquahpress, com. HUMAN SERVICES CAMPUSTIMEUNE The push to open a human services campus in Issaquah started in early 2006. Since then, community leaders and elected officials embarked on a detailed process to turn the campus from a vision into reality. 2006 Initial discussions begin about how the city can help Eastside Baby Corner, Issaquah Valley Community Services and other nonprofit organizations meet space needs. Organizers send a survey to 45 nonprofit organizations, and 15 agencies report immediate or possible interest in the Issaquah campus. 2007 The city Economic Vitality Task Force endorses the human servic- es campus concept for Issaquah. Organizers vote to put the Issaquah campus under the legal umbrella of the Family Resource Center, a nonprofit Redmond human services campus. 2008 City Council members earmark $1 million in impact fees paid by the Talus developer for the human services campus. 2009 The city Human Services Commission recommends the city join the Family Resource Center to conduct a feasibility study. The council later allots $35,000 to the center to conduct the study. 2010 The Family Resource Center releases the results of a survey of local nonproflts to gauge interest in the campus. 2011 Organizers deliver the complet- ed feasibility study to the council, and outline plans to select a site and raise funds. Sources: City of lssaquah, The Issaquah Press archives