The Seattle City Council ended its grueling annual budget process Monday afternoon with an 8-1 vote, sending a spending package topping $5 billion back to Mayor Ed Murray for final approval. The council added just over $18 million (PDF) in spending to Murray’s original $5.1 billion budget, along with an additional $5 million to be spent on emergency homeless services this year. City Council member Kshama Sawant cast the lone dissenting vote on the final budget, saying it did not go far enough to address the urgent needs of working people
“… on balance the budget differs little from previous years, and fails to address the acute housing crisis, inadequate transit, and ballooning inequality and injustice permeating Seattle,” Sawant said in a statement.
Outgoing Council member and budget committee chair Nick Licata positioned Seattle’s 2016 budget as a response to federal cutbacks. Federal grants have shrunk from 62% to 26% of the City’s Human Services budget, a 58% decrease, while the City’s General Fund contribution to the Human Services budget has more than doubled, from 25% to 55%, according to a statement on the council’s vote.
Among all the programs and initiatives included in next year’s budget, spending on homeless services stood out as a defining feature. All told, the City Council approved more than $47 million in 2016 to fight homelessness — or, about 1% of its budget for the year. Following up on his declaration of a homelessness state of emergency in Seattle, Murray will be at a Seattle University forum December 2nd to further discuss the issue.
The full council convened Monday afternoon after a short morning budget committee meeting in the morning to consider last-minute amendments. Much of the debate focused on how best to expand paid parental leave for City employees. Continue reading