YAKIMA, Wash. — Yakima has hired a high-profile Olympia lobbyist to help the city get money for redevelopment and public safety projects, and to increase its leverage in dealing with unions.
The lobbyist, Jim Justin, had been Gov. Chris Gregoire’s advocate in the Legislature since 2010. He left this fall to start a private lobbying firm.
“I want someone focused on results,” Yakima City Manager Tony O’Rourke said.
Earlier this week, the Yakima City Council approved hiring Justin in 2013 for a $50,000 flat fee.
“He could put in 10 hours or 100 hours a week as long as he gets results,” O’Rourke said.
The city already pays $75,000 to a Washington, D.C., law firm — Manatt, Phelps and Phillips — to lobby the federal government.
In Olympia, the Washington Association of Cities lobbies on behalf of municipal governments. Justin, however, will be lobbying on issues specific to Yakima, city officials said.
Yakima isn’t the only city to hire a lobbyist. Records from the state Public Disclosure Commission show that cities spend a wide range to lobby the state.
By the end of September, Everett had spent $111,003. With about 103,000 residents, the Everett is bit larger than Yakima, which has a population of 91,067.
Kent, which has 119,000 residents, spent nearly $35,000 through September and $51,619 in 2011. Last year, Pasco, which has about 61,000 residents, spent $37,846.
In Olympia, the city’s priorities include getting funding or resources for the city’s Gang Free Initiative and two redevelopment projects — North First Street and the former Boise Cascade mill property along Interstate 82.
Yakima city officials also want to get more leverage in contract arbitration with public unions. The city wants arbitrators to consider a local government’s ability to pay for raises, cost-of-living increases and other labor expenses when settling contract disputes involving transit, firefighter or police unions.
• This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips law firm.