COUNCIL COMMITTEE ADOPTS 2011 BUDGET



On Friday, November 12, the Council, meeting as the Budget Committee, completed its work on adopting some 147 amendments to the Mayor’s proposed budget and accompanying legislation.  This package will now go to the Full Council for formal adoption on Monday, November 22.

The budget approved by the Council responds to the challenge of the recession and works for the people of Seattle.  It is balanced and sustainable.  It protects public safety, expands our human services commitment, and invests resources to support our neighborhoods, parks, libraries, and transportation system.  There are still some cuts we would rather not make, but this Council has worked hard to minimize the impacts of difficult times on Seattle and invest in our common future.

Seattle is fortunate that our budget is not in a crisis.  Unlike the County, where police officers are being laid off, or the State, which will have great difficulty sustaining basic education and human services, the City will maintain all of our current police officers, all of our human services programs, and most of our other core programs.  We faced a budget challenge, and we successfully met that challenge.

There will be some reductions in services.  Approximately 300 positions will be cut from the City’s workforce, and there will be some major changes in how the City manages and administers its work.  There are no broad-based tax increases, although the Council did raise a number of fees, most significantly for the use of sports fields and other parks facilities, and for parking and other transportation services. 

Knowing that the challenge continues into 2012, the Council set firm targets for reduction in management costs that total nearly $3 million in 2012. We also expressed our intent to work with labor, management, and public stakeholders to fully review and create new models for managing our work in neighborhoods and community centers.  While approving City Light rate increases of 4.2% in 2011 and 3.2% in 2012, the Council actually reduced City Light rates for 2011 by ending the current 4.5% surcharge and will move forward with an efficiency review of City Light’s operations.

The Council also included in the budget package a series of actions to continue our work on economic recovery, including steps to coordinate permitting, support job training and development, and keep infrastructure projects moving forward.

We were able to restore many of the Mayor’s proposed cuts to important programs by identifying efficiencies.  We also used approximately $8.5 million which is being advanced to the City from the Museum of History and Industry.  MOHAI will receive funds from the SR 520 project as compensation for its building in Montlake.  The City will also receive funds for the land we own in Montlake, but at a later date, so this transaction simply allows us to use this money immediately.

The Council’s budget was informed by thousands of comments from the public and community organizations.  As we move into implementing the budget in 2011, the Council will continue to commit ourselves to listening to and engaging with the community in shaping Seattle’s future.

The following are some of the most significant changes that the Council made in the Mayor’s proposed budget:

COMMUNITIES:

  • Doubled the number of drop-in hours at the five Community Centers the Mayor proposed to cut, restoring each of them to 30 hours of drop-in availability for the community.
  • Restored $300,000 to the City’s Neighborhood Matching Fund for community projects.
  • Provided funding to restore three of the six neighborhood district coordinators that would have been terminated under the Mayor’s budget, retain a position in the Historic Preservation program, and keep the West Seattle payment center open.
  • Added $220,000 per year for major maintenance on library buildings.

HUMAN SERVICES:

  • Added nearly $200,000 in funding to establish a full-time winter shelter in City Hall and to address increasing costs experienced by existing shelter providers.
  • Restored 2010 funding levels for human services-related policy advocacy and for non-profit capacity building.
  • Restored almost $150,000 to continue subsidies that allow low-income offenders to participate in domestic violence batterer’s treatment programs.
  • Restored funding for the American Lung Association’s program to help families with asthma and other indoor air quality problems modify their homes and improve health.

PUBLIC SAFETY BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Preserving sufficient funding to implement the Seattle Police Departments Neighborhood Policing Program.
  • Restoring funding for Crime Victim Advocates proposed to be cut in the Mayor’s 2011-2012 proposed budget.
  • Adding $20,000 per year for the Safe Havens program, which provides a safe visitation center for the children of families affected by domestic violence, and $16,000 to train homeless shelter providers in working with victims of domestic violence.

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Sets a maximum hourly meter rate of $4.00, a minimum rate of $0.75, and creates a formal program to evaluate and adjust parking meter rates up or down based on demand for parking.
  • Rejects the Mayor’s proposal to increase the commercial parking tax from 12.5% to 17.5%, while still providing the Seattle Department of Transportation $3.6 million in additional funding per year.
  • Directs this additional $3.6 million per year in funding to support critical transportation investments, with an emphasis on infrastructure that serves pedestrians and bicycles.

For more information on budget actions please visit Seattle City Council Budget Committee site. You can also find the 2011-2012 Budget Highlights document here.