Community groups, advocates, neighbors, and citizens will line up virtually Tuesday night for the first of three public hearings on Seattle’s 2022 budget as the city’s leadership continues to tussle over how best to pay for competing priorities of policing and public safety, homelessness services and housing, and public transit:
SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL
Select Budget Committee
October 12, 2021 – 5:30 PM
Remote Meeting. Call 253-215-8782; Meeting ID: 586 416 9164; or Seattle Channel online.
The three hearings will include public comment. You can register to give comment here. The sign up form is available two hours before each session begins.
CHS reported on the 2022 budget proposal — the last of the Durkan administration — here.
With smoke still clearing from this year’s spending battles, Mayor Jenny Durkan has started Seattle’s 2022 budget process with a status quo proposal boosted by temporary federal COVID-19 relief and the JumpStart payroll tax on the city largest companies. The few headline grabbing line items include proposed spending that would allow Seattle Police to grow its shrinking force by 35 officers and enough breathing room, the Durkan administration believes, to earmark $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief for the city to acquire new affordable housing instead of the emergency services the money was channeled to in 2021.
Other proposed expenditures like $2.8 million to extend yet again a temporary clean-up “surge” in the city’s parks are also in the mix and signs of the challenges the city still faces as it tries to emerge from nearly two years of pandemic.
Political pressure is already building to do more to boost SPD and public safety spending. The Downtown Seattle Association and “dozens of local businesses and residents” signed a letter calling for more spending and more to be done to address lawlessness in the city’s downtown core.
Durkan’s proposal already includes spending to revive plans downtown for the $285 million Center City Connector streetcar that would connect the South Lake Union and First Hill streetcar lines via a 1.3-mile route along 1st Ave.
Other budget fights are emerging over sliced line items like money to pay for an RV outreach program and public sinks.
District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant, meanwhile, is championing a platform of “People’s Budget” demands including increasing Seattle’s JumpStart payroll tax “by $120 million to expand funds for affordable housing and Green New Deal projects,” adding $4.6 million in spending to open three new tiny house villages, and cutting $13 million from the SPD budget.
The Seattle Solidarity Budget, a new annual process from a coalition of community and advocacy groups hoped to more strongly influence the city’s spending plans, is also preparing for the public hearing. Its 2022 priorities include:
- Defunding SPD by 50% by eliminating position authority, reducing funding for positions, and ending funding for new hires and ending police spending on new tech, new buildings, new weapons, or police public relations
- Funding a taskforce of community experts whose charge will be to offer a report with an expanded list of options for progressive revenue to Council, by July 2022
- $85 million per year, for 3 years, to transition all low-income homes in our city to clean energy. Doing this will tackle Seattle’s fastest-growing source of climate pollution, while simultaneously improving the health of our communities, reducing utility bills and creating good, living-wage jobs.
- Commit 65% of the JumpStart revenue (at least $132 million annually), to acquisition, construction, and operation of deeply green affordable housing
- An additional $100 million investment in infrastructure for people walking, rolling, biking, and in transit.
- A $40 million investment would add 100,000 bus hours and add key bus lanes and bus priority at intersections.
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