Budget cuts Monday: City and county leaders roll out their plans to cut back for 2011

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine have little choice but to be the bearers of bad news this Monday as their plans for budget cuts are released to the public — and hundreds of city and county employees learn the fate of their jobs. We reported on the mayor’s planned cutbacks earlier this summer and have included a presentation outlining the planned cuts, below.

The mayor’s announcement is planned for noon and will be broadcast live here. We’ll update this post as we learn more. UPDATES:

  • The Mayor’s Office proposed 2011/2012 budget is detailed here http://mayormcginn.seattle.gov/budget/ We’ve pulled out a few highlights, below.
  • The city cuts that will hit Capitol Hill appear to be mostly citywide in nature. Miller Community Center wasn’t included in the cuts to Seattle Parks as were other centers across the city. While community centers and many other Parks programs were cut back, there also appears to be no cuts related directly to the Volunteer Park Conservatory. One direct Capitol Hill hit appears to be the Neighborhood Service Center located inside the Capitol Hill library branch. The Department of Neighborhoods must close its ‘non payment’ centers that do not offer city bill and ticket payment services. We profiled DON’s new coordinator of the Capitol Hill center back in March.
  • In all, the mayor’s plan calls for the elimination of about 300 city jobs.
  • SeattleCrime: Police Will Freeze Hiring, Cut Civilian Positions, Reshuffle Officers and Detectives. The site also says SPD mounted unit is cut and some Community Crime Prevention Coordinators will be eliminated. The mayor had asked SPD to make cuts amounting to around 1.5% of their annual budget.

  • Some of the more interesting citywide changes coming include a $.50 increase in hourly paid parking rates ($1.50 downtown) and extension of paid parking hours until 8 PM plus the introduction of Sunday paid parking (11 AM to 6 PM). You might recall a proposal to begin nighttime paid parking on Broadway that was put on hold earlier this year.
  • West Seattle Blog says community centers across the city will be closed but nothing in our area is on the chop block. Miller Community Center lives on, it seems.

Here are a few highlights from the mayor’s budget statement at http://mayormcginn.seattle.gov/budget/

The proposed budget is balanced on internal savings and efficiencies, including the savings in labor costs and administrative and management overhead costs, fee increases targeted toward the users of various services, and reductions to direct services. This will result in the layoff of City employees. The Proposed Budget eliminates 294 positions, or 2.67 percent of the City’s total work force. Of these positions, 214 are currently filled and will result in layoffs, effective January 4, 2011. Of these positions, 64 – or nearly 22 percent – are senior-level.

McGinn’s proposed budget minimizes direct service impacts on public safety and the human services safety net. Public Safety is the only operational program in the General Fund that is seeing expenditure increases in 2011. Police will have an all-time high of 585 sworn officers assigned to patrol in 2011, up from the current record-high of 555 officers. And Fire will maintain its current firefighting strength of 990 active personnel.


Beyond the cuts, McGinn said city will also need to increase revenues to reach a better balanced budget:

To generate more revenue, we propose increases in parking meter hours and rates, and in a variety of other fees to better align them with actual costs. For example, the Library will increase its daily fine rate, Police will increase the fee charged to alarm companies that ask police to respond to false alarms, Seattle Municipal Court will increase a number of its administrative fees, and Parks will increase a number of its fees.

Separate from the General Fund, the proposed budget includes increases in rates for Seattle City Light and the Solid Waste and Drainage and Wastewater utilities.


Some details of the increased fees and rates for city services:

Seattle City Light rates will increase by 4.3% in 2011 and 4.2% in 2012. Solid Waste rates will increase by 7.5% in 2011. Drainage rates will increase by 12.8% in 2011, or about $2.19 per month for an average household. Wastewater rates will increase by 4% in 2011, or about $1.87 per month for an average household, not including an anticipated pass-through from King County for wastewater treatment costs. Water rates will increase approximately 3.5% in 2011. Increased fees include cat licenses; the Library’s daily fine rate and rate to print from Library computers; security system false alarms triggering a police response; and fees charged at the following Parks and Recreation facilities: Japanese Garden, Camp Long, Amy Yee Tennis Center, swimming pools, athletic fields, boat ramps, community meeting rooms and gymnasiums, special event ceremonies, picnics, and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. The hourly parking meter rate increases by $1.50 an hour downtown and 50 cents in other parts of the city. Paid parking hours are extended by two hours until 8 p.m. (Monday – Saturday), and paid parking is instituted on Sundays (11 a.m. – 6 p.m.).

The County announcement is already out. Here are the details:

To help close the $60 million shortfall, the proposed budget cuts 462 positions in 2011, most of them in General Fund agencies. With inclusion of reductions the Council will decide for the legislative branch and likely reductions in the Transportation supplemental budget to be transmitted in mid-October, more than 500 total positions are likely to be eliminated.

The budget proposal cuts the Executive’s office by an additional 12 percent, on top of the 15 percent cut to staffing and a more than 10 percent cut to Executive office salaries he ordered upon taking office. Among other agencies that created efficiencies:

  • Superior Court implemented an on-call system for jurors that allows them to remain home rather than reporting to the courthouse on the first day of jury duty and waiting until needed. The change will save the court mileage and per diem reimbursements, while saving jurors precious time. Savings: $322,332.
  • The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention re-bid food contracts and secured lower costs for milk, bread, and eggs for inmates in its correctional facilities. Savings: $160,000.
  • Jail Health Services switched to a new automatic medication packaging system that streamlines the dispensing process in the pharmacies and the provision of medications by nurses. Savings: $205,156.
  • The Department of Development and Environmental Services put in place a number of administrative reductions related to implementation of the Permit Integration system, the Accountable Business Transformation (ABT) systems, the new fee structure, and reduced permitting activity. Savings: $250,000.
  • The Elections Office eliminated the use of fresh paper stock for ballots that are unable to be processed through the machines. Savings: $30,000.
  • The Facilities Management Division saved energy costs by reducing heating and ventilation operating hours, consolidating computer server rooms, and adjusting work schedules to eliminate shift differentials and overtime in building services. Savings: $950,750.
  • The Sheriff’s Office reorganized four precincts to two, reducing the number of command staff and deputies. Savings: $664,832.
  • In addition to cuts, the county is also looking at bumping up some revenue generation:

    To close the shortfall, the budget proposal also raises revenue, mostly by selling contract services to cities but also instituting small increases in fees, including:

    • A $30 increase in the surface water management fee per year per parcel to prevent flooding and improve drainage in the unincorporated areas, bringing King County slightly below the median of fees charged by all other cities in the county. 
    • A 5 percent surcharge for four years on permits from the Department of Development and Environmental Services, to support a permit integration project for improved customer service and relocation of the department’s functions related to permitting. 
  • Increases to some fees in Public Health to maintain service levels for a few programs in Environmental Health, Vital Statistics, and the Medical Examiner Office.

    Seattle Times has more on the King County cutbacks.

    Information from the Office of the Mayor regarding planned reductions from earlier this summer is below. We’ll learn more about how these planned cuts will play out in reality in today’s announcements.


    Mayor Mike McGinn will give his 2011 City of Seattle Budget Address Monday, September 27, at the Rainier Beach Community Center. Following the Budget Address, McGinn will formally transmit his proposed budget to Council in their chambers at City Hall.

    2011 City of Seattle Budget Address

    When: 12:00 p.m. Noon, Monday, September 27
    Where: Rainier Beach Community Center, 8825 Rainier Avenue South

    The Address is open to the public. There is limited seating capacity in the meeting room. For those unable to attend, the speech will be livestreamed to the internet by the Seattle Channel. Guests planning to attend are asked to RSVP online in advance at http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/budget/. Parking is limited. The Rainier Beach Community Center is served by Metro bus lines 7, 8, 9, 106 and 107. The Rainier Beach light-rail station is also nearby.

    Formal transmittal of mayor’s proposed budget

    When: 2:00 p.m., Monday, September 27
    Where: City Hall, Council Chambers

    The slide above shows the proposed cuts by department as they stood in June. Here’s the complete presentation:

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    6 thoughts on “Budget cuts Monday: City and county leaders roll out their plans to cut back for 2011


      Demand the wealthy pay their fair share and demand the politicians stop bending over and spreading their ass cheeks for every corporation that demands a “business-friendly” environment in Washington.

      The top income tax rate stood at 91 percent under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and was 70 percent during the reign of Republican Richard M. Nixon And it was 50 percent or higher for the first five years of the Reagan administration.

      Today, under “liberal” Obama and Gregoire, most of the residents of Washington now pay a higher percentage of our incomes than Bill Gates. Contrary to the right wingers’ lies, “big government” is NOT “spending too much.” The problem is that the rich have stopped contributing to the general welfare of society through taxes. Working class people (bus drivers, janitors, office workers, bike messengers, etc) have been forced to pick up the slack. We work harder and longer so they don’t have to.

      These budgets cuts WILL BE PERMANENT. The ruling class’s way of dealing with the crisis created by Wall Street is to transfer massive amounts of wealth (remember those $14 trillion worth of bailouts?) from us (working people via our taxes) directly to the folks who caused the crisis. We are to accept permanently high unemployment, the destruction of unions, permanently cut social and health services, etc. If you want an idea of what they want us to accept, read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”

      We can either passively accept the assault on our already low living standards, or we can fight back and demand change.

    2. They are proposing cuts at the Neighborhood Center Payment sites (and eliminating the Capitol Hill non-payment OFFICE), which will most likely result in laying off a few cashier clerks that make around $30,000 a year-but offer direct service to the community- WHY don’t they save those jobs and cut the pay of the Neighborhoods Director, the Neighborhoods Deputy Director, and the Payments Manager -all of whom make over $100,000 a year? Is it because these same 3 individuals were the very ones in charge of making the recommended cuts in the Neighborhoods Department, I think so.

    3. It is a miracle that 10th Ave is finally being fixed (at least north of Boston), but I seriously doubt that any residential street on Capital Hill will ever again be repaved. So I have an idea: if we can sell the naming rights to our football and baseball stadiums, why not our city streets? Would Boeing be willing to repave Federal Ave in exchange for the privilege of renaming it “Boeing Avenue” for the next 10 years? We could have freshly paved streets all over the city named after local (or international) companies or non-profit organizations, or even civic-minded individuals.

    4. what is going to crush this city, state and country is the burden of government pensions. until a politician actually gets the balls to confront the unions over this, all this annual nickel and diming like raising parking fees is a joke.

    5. Yeah, that’s the truth. Unfortunately, it’s just not in Washington State that this affects.

      I will say that Seattle seems to have its priorities out of whack. I’m down with bike lanes, wading pools and community centers, et al, but man… saying we’ll restripe perfectly good streets for bike lanes and raise people’s electricity? That’s insane. I’m lucky because I can afford a bill increase. The single mom trying to raise a kid on a paltry $30k salary, probably not so much.

      If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s evident we need more police and we’re saying we’re freezing hiring in that area? Look at the posts on this site. And didn’t Belltown take some of Capitol Hill’s police force due to the crime going on over there?

      Finally, yeah, the city’s probably bloated with jobs as is, but we’re cutting jobs to keep some pools open? I know that’s a super simplistic way of describing the situation, but these are the jobs of the very low tier wage earners in the city.

      I understand that this isn’t a great economic climate, but McGinn has me pretty disillusioned. I haven’t looked at the budget in detail, so forgive me, but are there any cuts for directors, assistant directors, etc making over $50-60k a year?