The ‘Great Recession’ continues — Where Seattle budget cuts will hit the Hill

The City of Seattle’s “new economic reality” was fully documented Monday afternoon as Mayor Mike McGinn outlined the executive budget proposal for City Hall in 2012. From the summary that gave the Great Recession repeated big “G” big “R” treatment:

The 2012 Proposed Budget totals $4.2 billion, including the City’s $910 million General Fund. Three years after the start of the Great Recession and two years following its lackadaisical conclusion, the City of Seattle continues to adjust to a new economic reality – one marked by weak economic and revenue growth relative to other post-recessionary periods.The 2012 Proposed Budget totals $4.2 billion, including the City’s $910 million General Fund. Three years after the start of the Great Recession and two years following its lackadaisical conclusion, the City of Seattle continues to adjust to a new economic reality – one marked by weak economic and revenue growth relative to other post-recessionary periods.

With that Eeyore-worthy start, you’ll probably be glad to know the mayor’s plan for 2012 doesn’t cut too much more away — but it also isn’t yet time, apparently, to rebuild any of the resources cut away in 2011. Here’s an overview of the proposed cuts including a report on the budget proposal posted by the mayor’s office this afternoon and our look at how some of the cuts will play out on Capitol Hill — including a significant bite taken out of the budget for the seemingly continually fiscally threatened Volunteer Park Conservatory.

  • You’ll hear about the proposed firing of 80 city workers and elimination of another 30 jobs. Significant cuts — but representative of about 1% of the city’s workforce.
  • The most direct blow to the city’s assets on Capitol Hill appears to be the redirection of $159,000 from the Volunteer Park Conservatory reserve funds to general fund support. We’ll check in on what this will mean for the facility that regularly finds its out-of-the-ordinary staffing and maintenance requirements eyed in the annual budget process.

  • We’ve already outlined the savings sought by changing how the city’s community centers operate. In the plan, Capitol Hill’s Miller Community Center would be reduced to minimal city staffing levels and will likely face reduced operating hours as the changes are balanced out across other community centers in central Seattle.
  • The city’s sale of its “Rubble Yard” — yeah, we own one of those — will somehow leave about $1.5 million for “high-capacity transit planning” in the mayor’s plan. Aloha streetcar extension or Madison rapid bus plan, anyone?
  • Not Hill specific, but the plan also calls for SPD to not hire some unfilled positions. Also not just important to the Hill but critical with all of the development underway up here, DPD would see a bump in staffing under the plan.
  • Not cut: No changes to Seattle Fire and last year’s big slices from Seattle’s libraries at least won’t be repeated. Of course, those lost hours also won’t be restored.
  • And in the category of money that will be tempting to spend, the mayor is proposing setting aside $2 million to help replenish the city’s “rainy day” fund for unforeseen circumstances. Looky — it’s raining right now.

2012 Proposed Budget by the Numbers

One thought on “The ‘Great Recession’ continues — Where Seattle budget cuts will hit the Hill

  1. Look forward (afraid) to hearing more about the impacts on the conservatory. I know that these times require many difficult choices but the conservatory seems so difficult to just “put on pause” until times improve. I hope the city has some creativity somewhere, some how, to keep tie conservatory operating and open to the public. It may be one of the finest amenities this neighborhood and even city possess. I encourage folks who really do value the conservatory to drop a couple extra bucks or twenty when you are there next and write the Council and Mayor to voice your support for our conservatory. Is there a more civilized thing to include in an autumnal afternoon than a visit to this lovely public facility?

    Our Mayor: http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/citizen_response.htm
    Our City Council: http://www.seattle.gov/council/councilcontact.htm