Budget Crunch Time

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2013 budget logoThe City Council is entering crunch time in our 2013-2014 budget deliberations. Beginning this morning through Friday, we will review Council proposals for specific additions and cuts to the Mayor’s original budget proposal. Late next week, likely either Thursday or Friday, we’ll vote on a final balancing package of budget amendments.

The Council approached our budget work with a sharp focus on effectively addressing the needs of today. We want to make smart investments to deal with the pressing issues we face in a way that is efficient, effective and aligned with our vision for the future.

Before we received the Mayor’s budget proposal in late September, the Council passed Resolution 31404. This legislation established performance standards and questions for the Council to ask (and City departments to answer) so that we know what we’re getting when we invest taxpayer money in new programs.

Over the last six weeks, we have been asking these questions about specific goals and program measures. Sometimes we get satisfactory answers; sometimes, frankly, the answers leave us with only more questions.

Despite the requests and proposals for new spending, this is a still a recession-driven budget. We are trimming program spending and, even more reluctantly, eliminating city staff positions. So where there are new programs proposed, we must have a solid accountability structure in place to move forward. If such a structure does not yet exist, the Council may “proviso” or hold money until we are sure it can be invested effectively, or we may ask for rigorous evaluations as we move forward.

The Council has also been listening closely to your priorities. We have heard from hundreds at our public hearings. Over a thousand people have completed our budget survey. (This survey will close at 5:00 p.m. today and I’ll post a summary of responses next week.) We know that people have many needs today—and we’re working hard to effectively address them.

I will post more information in the coming 10 days and I’m sure my colleagues will do the same on their blogs. As always, you can follow our work live on the Seattle Channel and you can find copies of agendas and budget documents here.