Urban Politics #187: City Council Passes the Budget


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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CITY COUNCIL PASSES THE BUDGET

Each budget season I try to provide a quick synopsis of how the Council has altered the City Budget as the Mayor presented it to us. In this Urban Politics, I’ve borrowed generously from our staff’s summary. In a few places I’ve added some commentary or abbreviated the material, but overall I’m presenting information as our staff has summarized it. I believe it provides a fair summary of the changes the Council made to the new City Budget.

Every spring the Mayor begins the budget process by asking each of the City Departments to provide him (it could be “her” but hasn’t been for a long time) with their proposed budget. He provides them general parameters, such as how much their budget may be cut or in good times how much they could add. Cumulatively over the past 3 years, due to the failing regional economy and state initiatives and state legislature actions, the City has had to cut about $100 million from its budgets.

Our 2005 general fund budget is about $680 million, not including federal grants or revenue generated from within our utilities. The utility budgets, by state law must be kept separate and their revenue may not be commingled with the City’s general revenues.

At the beginning of September the Mayor presents his City Budget to the City Council and we must approve it by the end of November. Our formal vote this year will be on November 22nd, but the vote we took today in reality is the budget that has been agreed to among the Council Members and passed out of our Budget Committee. It represents a balanced and fiscally sustainable 2005-2006 biennial City budget package that had to overcome about a $20-million budget shortfall.

However, more unanticipated-yet mandated-costs appeared, creating about a $2-million budget shortfall. Keeping to our previously expressed priority of putting the needs of people first, the Council restored cut services for low-income families, the poor, homebound and elderly, as well as providing for these unanticipated costs by trimming the Mayor’s budget, using unexpected revenue and modestly raising utility taxes. In addition to funding basic human services, the Council also made significant contributions to our transportation infrastructure

Seattle City Council made the following changes in the City’s
Biennial Budget:

The Seattle Public Library

The Bookmobile

The Budget Committee added $500,000 in 2005 and 2006 to help restore
Seattle Public Library ‘s bookmobile program.

The Collections Budget

Council added $500,000 in one-time monies to bring the City’s total
appropriation for the Library’s book collection budget to $3.2 million
in 2005. The Council encourages the Library to explore options for using
the funds to create a “Matching Fund” program for the collections
budget.

Seattle Department of Transportation

The Committee added $2.1-million in the 2005 budget and $1.8-million in
the 2006 budget for the following transportation related programs and
improvements.

Arterial Street Paving

Provides $1-million in funding for arterial street paving.

Bridge Maintenance and Inspection
Neighborhood Traffic Services
Neighborhood Corridor Planning
Bike and Pedestrian Improvements
Neighborhood Pedestrian Improvements
Traffic Signal Maintenance

All of the above programs received additional funding.

Human Services

The Council restored $300,000 to human services, cut from the Mayor’s budget. The net-effect is that all contracted service reductions proposed by the Mayor for human services is restored by the following 3 budget actions:

Access to Services

This restores 100% of the current spending level for Access to Services. Access to services funds increase the access and delivery of services needed to help special needs populations.

Policy Advocacy

The Council restores 100% of the proposed cuts to the Human Services Department’s 2005-2006 budget for Policy Advocacy.

Technical support for non-profits

The Council restores 100% of the proposed cuts to the Human Services Department’s 2005-2006 budget for technical support for non-profits.

Late Night Recreation in our City Parks

The Council restored a $152,336 cut from the proposed budget, to reinstate the Late Night Recreation Program in City Parks. In combination with 2000 Parks Levy funds, already in the Mayor’s budget, these funds will be used to continue the program two weekend nights in two locations in Southeast Seattle: one night a weekend at Delridge Community Center and one night a weekend at the High Point Community Center.

Funding to stabilize homeless programs for LGBT youth

The Council provided funding to the Human Services Department for a Request for Proposal (RFP), funding services to Lesbian, gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) at-risk and homeless youth.

Magistrate Neighborhood

Restored to full operation the magistrates in the City’s Neighborhood Service Centers. Magistrates are in the community nine days every two weeks in five locations throughout the city.

Community Service Contracts

This reinstated funding for community agencies that provide outreach and education regarding repayment options and suspended licenses. Community agencies provide valuable education and outreach to those whose licenses were previously suspended and who are having difficulty repaying debt owed the City.

Community Opportunity Program

The Council establishes a Community Production Opportunity Program with the goal to enable the Seattle Channel to create more programming that reflects the cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity of the citizens of Seattle. This includes more topics of concern and interest to a wider variety of citizens for whom English is not a first language.

Community Courts

The Committee provided funds to start the Community Court program in 2005. This is 1/4th of the funds needed. The rest is expected to be provided by the Downtown Seattle Association in partnership with the City.

Teen Parent Program

The Council added funds to the Human Services Department, Family Development Budget for the Teen Parenting Program. This program provides case management services to pregnant and parenting teens between the ages of 15 and 17.

Legal Services

Council restores the funding for the City’s contract with King County Bar Association Legal Clinics.

Soar Opportunity Fund

Restores funding to the SOAR Opportunity Fund, which is a collaborative financial partnership with public and private partners working to leverage funding to improve the lives of children and youth.

Office of Police Accountability

The Committee restores the position of an assistant to the Director of the Office of Professional Accountability.

Seattle City Parks

Volunteer Park Conservatory The Committee eliminated the proposed entrance fees on the Conservatory at Volunteer Park and asked the Department of Parks and Recreation to implement a more rigorous donation system.

Parking Fees in City Parks

The Committee eliminated the proposed Parks Parking Fees removing parking meters designated for certain parks.

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