Hill transit investments, yes, gunshot locator tech, no, as Seattle finalizes new budget

The City Council this dripping, rainy wet Monday is putting the finishing touches on the 2013 Seattle budget process that sees the city slowing the pace of recent cutbacks as the region undergoes a modest economic recovery. In the big picture, the Council has sacrificed the city’s planning process for Eastlake-area transit and changed how the city is planning to pay for new video terminal in SPD cruisers to reinstate or add funding for a modest list of Seattle social services. Here’s a look at a few Capitol Hill and area-related line items that will see financial changes in the coming year. 

  • The $350,000 the city is planning to kick in to help fund the $3 million planning of the First Hill streetcar extension toward Volunteer Park is part of of some $2 million budgeted for “Transit Corridor Improvements” in the final proposal. The expected $25 million cost to build the projects is expected to eventually be put together through a combination of federal funding and, likely, an increase in property taxes for landowners near the line.
  • While the Council plans to cut funding for two high capacity transit studies (a likely streetcar extension to the U District via Eastlake Ave and a potential transit/bike/walk bridge across the Ship Canal somewhere between Fremont and Ballard) they have added $150,000 to boost a $850,000 study of the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit project.

Though Madison is too steep for a streetcar, it is a high-potential corridor for faster and more frequent transit, according the recently-approved Transit Master Plan. The line would go between Colman Dock and 23rd Ave, and buses would run every five minutes for most of the day. The plan could include streetcar-like features such as bus-priority travel lanes, widely-spaced stops for faster movement, loading platforms that allow for fast loading even for people with mobility issues, and perhaps even the ability to pay at the stop platform instead of on the bus.

  • Volunteer Park Conservatory’s new entrance fee is forecast to generate $100,000 to help operate the facility:

The fee changes in 2013 include a new $4 admissions fee at Volunteer Park Conservatory, increased fees at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (LHPAC) based on the new renovations, and fees for the new Challenge Course at Camp Long. The fee at Volunteer Park Conservatory is estimated to generate an additional $100,000 annually, which will be used to cover ongoing maintenance costs at the facility. The fee increases at LHPAC are anticipated to generate about $30,000 in 2013 based on the estimated increase in usage of the building. Although LHPAC is being transferred to the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Parks will continue to collect and process revenues associated with LHPAC in 2013. The new Challenge Course is expected to generate an additional $55,000 annually.

  • The Capitol Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library gets cash for a “modest” refurbishment in the plans for 2013.
  • The City Council left intact $1 million for 10 new police officers in 2013 and added $1.6 million for new hires in 2014.
  • A $1 million high-tech gunshot locator system was among the cuts the City Council made to the initial budget proposals from the mayor’s office.

The gunshot locator uses microphones and cameras located in gun violence hot spot areas that help the city quickly identify the exact location of a gunshot. The system is also capable of discerning the difference between gunshots and other sounds commonly mistaken for shots (such as fireworks and backfiring car engines). In lieu of the nearly $1 million gunshot locator system, the Council added $1 million worth of violent crime prevention emphasis patrols in 2013 and funding for additional SPD officers in 2014.

  • The mayor’s initial budget proposal included $1.68 million to expand the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, which was started after an uptick in youth gun violence in 2008. The Council is planning to hold $1 million of that funding until the City Auditor completes has a plan for undertaking an evaluation of the program.
  • $276,000 will help add hours of operation at Miller Community Center after repeated cutbacks.

Here’s a look at the Council’s proposed changes to the mayor’s budget:


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One thought on “Hill transit investments, yes, gunshot locator tech, no, as Seattle finalizes new budget

  1. People living along the original streetcar line will not have to pay extra taxes – so people along the streetcar extension shouldn’t either. If this will be funded via a local property tax, then I’m against the idea. A half a mile walk isn’t such a hardship, and the streetcar extension would likely screw up traffic on Aloha and Prospect.