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.
- Parks: In August 2014, the voters of Seattle approved a measure to create the Seattle Park District. Once fully implemented in 2016, the district will have resources of approximately $48 million per year, which will be used in partnership with the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) to fund recreational services, major maintenance of existing Parks assets and investments in new park facilities. This district will provide critical resources for maintaining existing facilities, enhancing services within the existing park network, and developing previously acquired properties. During 2015, the City will loan an initial $10 million to the district, helping provide a smooth “ramp up” of district-supported activities ahead of full implementation in 2016. The district will repay this amount over eight years, once tax collections start in 2016.
- Small business: Micro and small businesses provide job creation, innovation and wealth creation opportunities that are an important aspect of the economic vibrancy of Seattle. Supporting entrepreneurs in accessing the appropriate information, resources and training is critical to ensuring the success and growth of their enterprises. The proposed budget provides $210,000 of additional resources to increase the level of technical assistance, outreach and engagement, and financial services provided to small businesses. The proposed budget also increases support for the existing Only in Seattle (OIS) program in 2015 and 2016 to support neighborhood business district economic development efforts, with targeted focus on better serving ethnic, minority, and immigrant and refugee-owned small businesses. OIS promotes a safe and healthy business environment for business organizations and neighborhood business districts. Significant one-time and ongoing resources are added to OIS to expand the reach of the program and increase the number of grants made available.
- Central District: In conjunction with the proposed budget, the Mayor has proposed legislation to broaden the uses of the Central Area Equity Fund. The Central Area Equity Fund was created in 1995 to provide support to community development organizations to assist with the acquisition and development of real estate in the Central Area. Maintaining a commitment to the community and economic development purpose of the fund, the Mayor proposes to expand potential uses of the fund to include supporting several community-based projects and initiatives, all with the goal of celebrating the Central Area’s identity, culture and history, and enhancing the economic opportunities for its residents.
- Libraries: We’re not exactly sure what it means — but something’s being cooked up for the Capitol Hill library: The Library will use REET funding in 2015 to restructure library spaces to address changes in how patrons use the Library. This includes projects in the Northeast, Capitol Hill, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle branches. As Library resources and programming evolve to meet customer interests, there are opportunities to use spaces in innovative ways that provide flexibility, expand learning opportunities and encourage interaction.
- Ecodistrict: $145,000 was cut from the 2014 budget for the Capitol Hill program. We’re checking with Capitol Hill Housing to find out if this was an unexpected change.
- P-Patches: Get $24 grand and half-employee bump to help provide more gardening space in the city.
The mayor’s proposal also includes some important transportation and transit line items — including a plan to expand bike sharing to the Central District in 2015:
- Expand investments that make biking, riding transit, and walking easier alternatives to get around in Seattle, by including increased funding for sidewalks (see above), $800,000 for development of a Downtown Cycle Track Network, and $2.4 million for new bicycle greenways parallel to the 23rd Avenue Corridor.
- Launch a bike sharing program in the Central District neighborhood in 2015.
- Improve the 23rd Avenue corridor, which is a major north-south thoroughfare connecting the Rainier Valley and Central Area to the University of Washington.
- Activate streets and right-of-way areas so people can walk, bike, shop, and explore their community in a new way by increasing funding for the Summer Streets program and supporting new concepts for plazas and parklets.
- The proposed budget doubles annual funding for the Neighborhood Street fund, from $1 million to $2 million. These resources, which are allocated through a process that is driven by neighborhood priorities, will support investments that improve safety and mobility in neighborhoods across the city.
The Streetcar budget section manages some excellent civic gymnastics when it comes to the question of when the line will begin serving Broadway: “the First Hill line is expected to begin operations in winter 2014/2015,” the proposal reads. The Murray proposal would spend more than $9 million to run Seattle’s two streetcar lines in 2015 up from $5.7 million in 2014:
The Seattle Streetcar consists of two lines – the South Lake Union line and the First Hill line. The City of Seattle contracts with King County Metro to operate the streetcars. Pursuant to interlocal agreements, King County contributes a set amount of the operating costs for the South Lake Union line and Sound Transit contributes a set amount for the First Hill line. The City pays the remaining costs to operate the streetcars. The City’s share of the costs is covered by the following: streetcar fares, Federal Transit Administration funds, sponsorships, leases and contributions.
Planners forecast the First Hill Streetcar to generate $1,114,000 in farebox revenue and $200,000 for sponsorships in 2015.
There is also money earmarked for one of the most complained about aspects of Capitol Hill’s building boom. The Mayor’s Office is pledging funding for the Construction Hub program. “The program actively plans, coordinates, and monitors construction activity in downtown as well as in neighborhoods, and will become even more important as major downtown construction activity is expected to continue in 2015,” the budget proposal explains.
CMs Rasmussen & Harrell escort Mayor Murray to Council Chambers for his annual budget address pic.twitter.com/R44bkvKKoU
— Seattle City Council (@SeattleCouncil) September 22, 2014
Here are some of the Hill-related priorities CHS expected Murray to tackle after his election victory.
The process for public feedback and City Council-driven modifications to the budget plan now begins. Here’s how some of those areas shook out in last year’s budget process as then-Mayor Mike McGinn unsuccessfully campaigned to keep his seat in City Hall.
The full executive summary of the budget proposal is below.
You can review the specific proposals for each budget category here.