Ed Murray is showing where the money lands in his priorities for Seattle as the mayor details his proposals for the city’s $4.8 billion 2015-2016 budget in a Monday afternoon presentation to the City Council.
“I believe the budget is where this City can show how government can be an incubator of change and support bold policy experimentation,” Murray said.
Murray said Seattle’s local economy is growing but growth in city services is not keeping pace.
The mayor also announced that some of his budget proposals are designed to replace services cut at the county and state level. The King County budget proposal was also released Monday.
Murray has already revealed details for some of his highest priorities in the new proposals:
- Public safety: In response to a surge in street crime on Capitol Hill and in downtown, Murray announced his intention to put $3.3 million behind the hiring of more officers and the development of new tools and resources to improve policing in Seattle:
Mayor Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.
The mayor’s office says Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is also “conducting a resource allocation study of position assignments within the department,” and available officers will be reassigned from “lower priority work” to “the high-priority work of patrol.”
- Homelessness and mental health: In the same announcement, Murray’s office pledged $2.75 million for human services, including $1.5 million for more homelessness services in Seattle including money to “backfill” the DESC of Seattle service centers budget, support Project 360 to aid homeless youth, and help fund the Urban Rest Stop hygiene center.
- Minimum wage: As the new minimum wage takes effect and begins the climb to $15 in 2015, the mayor teamed with the City Council’s Nick Licata to announce plans to create a seven-person Office of Labor Standards to enforce the new rules and other Seattle workplace issues. The Office of Labor Standards would have a budget of $511,000 in 2015 and $660,000 in 2016. The director of the office will report to the mayor.
- Education and Early Learning: Murray plans to reorganize the city’s education and support programs into a new Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL). The new department would house 38 employees and manage a budget of $48.5 million, including $30 million each year from the voter-approved Families and Education Levy.
In Monday afternoon’s announcement, CHS is also on the lookout for planning around transit spending in light of the November ballot measure to support Metro schedules in Seattle with an increase in the sales tax, and specific Capitol Hill-related line items.
- Affordability: Mayor Murray is committed to developing a coordinated set of strategies that address critical affordable housing needs in Seattle. Development of a Housing Affordability Agenda and planning for the 2016 Housing Levy renewal are closely linked. The proposed budget provides the Office of Housing with the funding needed to research new and expanded strategies to ensure Seattle has housing affordable to diverse household types across a range of income levels. In 2015 and 2016, $125,000 in funding will support the development of the Housing Affordability Agenda. In addition, in 2015 $185,000 will support planning for renewal of the 2016 Housing Levy.