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Council Budget Committee Approves 2017 Annual Budget Package – Investments in Homeless Response, Early Learning

SEATTLE – Council’s nine member Select Budget Committee voted to approve a 2017-2018 City budget package today, which will enhance investments in homelessness prevention and response, early learning and education, and neighborhood public safety.  Budget Committee Chair Tim Burgess developed the approved budget package through consultation with his Council colleagues and soliciting feedback from the public. Today’s vote follows two months of review, analysis, and amending of Mayor Murray’s draft proposal which was delivered to Council on September 26, 2016.

“Thank you to the Seattleites who participated in this year’s budget review process. Most of the funded proposals came about thanks to your committed and effective advocacy,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess (Position 8, Citywide). “My colleagues each have made important and significant investments in this budget, serving Seattleites across every Council district. I’m grateful for their sincere, compassionate, and diligent work.”

The Council’s revised budget makes a number of new investments in areas including human services, early education, public safety, tenant protections, and more.

Selected highlights include:

Human Services:  An additional $2.8 million to the proposed $157 million Human Services Department (HSD) budget in 2017 to manage homeless prevention and response and to serve other vulnerable people, an approximate increase of 12.4% over 2016’s adopted budget.  Council also provided funding to support HSD programs including:

Burgess said, “I’m especially proud of Council’s support for education and early learning. One of my highest priorities was investing in a continuum of care, and I’m thankful to my colleagues for making investment in our littlest learners a priority. Seattle’s children deserve a strong and fair start and to make sure they are ready to thrive when they reach kindergarten.”

Early Education:  Council chose to fund education programs including:

Public Safety:  Council also increased and maintained investments in public safety, keeping Seattle on track to hire 200 additional police officers by the end of 2019. Members held $4.6 million in funds for the Seattle Police Department (SPD) body worn cameras until community outreach is completed—but allowed for a further pilot of the cameras with downtown bicycle squads; provided funds to purchase a new EMS aid car; and, funded select recommendations from the Chinatown/International District Public Safety Task Force. The proposed 2017 annual budget also includes funds to relaunch the popular Community Service Officer program which was discontinued in 2004.

Tenant Protections:  Councilmembers invested in resources for renters and landlords in the midst of Seattle’s affordability crisis.  The 2017 budget supports the creation of a tenant landlord resource center, development of a website to help renters and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities under Seattle’s rental regulations, and outreach efforts to help communities with limited English proficiency and immigrant and refugee communities understand their rights.

Members also resolved to establish new protocols to ensure proper Council oversight of major capital projects, after Council learned of lapses in project scope and cost for projects including the Seawall and North Precinct police facility. In 2017, members intended to establish new controls over capital project spending, including appropriating by phase for large projects. Council oversight will also be improved through enhanced regular reporting, such as when projects deviate from Council-approved scope, schedule or budget.

Council managed to fund the aforementioned programs with an improved 2017 revenue forecast, ending a tax break for International Investment Management Services, terminating spending on the Pronto Bike Share system after March 2017, and additional reductions.

Additionally, the Budget Committee approved a $29 million proposal to utilize long-term City bonds to pay for housing. Details of the proposal, including which projects and which income brackets would be served, will be developed in 2017.

Council’s nine-member Budget Committee will convene Monday, November 21st at 10:30 a.m. to recommend final approval of the 2017-2018 City budget. Full Council will then vote on the final 2017-2018 City budget later that same day at 2 p.m.

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