With the fall days getting darker and darker we’ve been burning the midnight oil at City Hill to craft a budget that is attuned to the needs of all Seattleites. As we head into another round of negotiations I want to give you a quick update of where we are in the process, and my priorities for the budget.
Where we are:
The 2017-2018 Budget approval process officially began with the Mayor’s Budget Address on September 26th. Since then we have been analyzing the Mayor’s proposals, meeting with countless advocates to hear community needs, establishing our priorities and crafting them into proposals. On November 2nd the Budget Committee Chair, Councilmember Burgess, presented his work reconciling all initial requests into one big balancing package. Additional proposals and ones that did not make it into the Initial Balancing Package were submitted last Friday. This week we will be discussing this second round of submissions. The week thereafter we will vote on the Revised Balancing Package. On November 21st we will cast the final vote on the 2017-2018 Budget. The Proposed Budget, full calendar and documents database reside here if you want to learn more: http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/select-budget-committee.
My proposals included in the Initial Balancing Package:
Chinatown-International District (CID) Public Safety Coordinator
($75,000 in 2017 / $75,000 in 2018)
As Chair of the committee that oversees public safety I took this year’s CID Public Safety Task Force recommendations to heart. One of their top priorities was the funding of a public safety coordinator who would act as a liaison with the City, advocate for the community, help determine appropriate action for daily public safety/human service situations, and build trust between non/limited English speaking residents, small businesses, community organizations and the police. The public safety coordinator would also serve as co-chair of the CID Steering Committee formed in response to the CID Public Safety Task Force recommendations.
CID Public Safety Surveys
($20,000 in 2017 / $20,000 in 2018)
This project, also a recommendation of the CID Public Safety Task Force, would provide funds to contract with a local community based organization and partner with an academic institution to perform culturally competent public safety surveys in the CID, including Little Saigon. The surveys will provide data to help the City make informed policy decisions on public safety matters facing the CID. For example, a similar study conducted in early 2016 by two local community development associations found that respondents did not report witnessing a crime to the police 73% of the time for non-violent crimes and 60% of the time for violent crimes.
Danny Woo Park Improvements
($200,000 in 2017 / $200,000 in 2018)
Danny Woo garden is a historic community hub in the CID. The 1.5 acre garden contains at least 88 plots that are cared for and cultivated by Asian and Pacific Islander immigrant residents of the neighborhood. It serves as an important part of these individual’s lives, giving them purpose, an opportunity to exercise and way to engage with their neighbors. Originally, established in 1975 it’s in need of some TLC. Some of the proposed improvements include new native drought tolerant plantings, multi-lingual interpretive signage and infrastructure updates for pathways, stairways and retaining walls using sustainable practices.
Paid Parental Leave Benefits Coordinator for Municipal Workers
($144,050 in 2017 / $148,369 in 2018)
This budget action would provide funding to the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) for one full time Strategic Advisor who would work as a benefits coordinator. This position would help implement the City’s paid leave benefits including paid parental leave, sick leave, and vacation, consistently across City departments and help employees understand and coordinate their leave benefits.
Mobile Advocates for Survivors of DVSA
($491,000 in 2017 / $491,000 in 2018)
Unfortunately, we are all too aware that 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence). This budget action would allocate funds to the Human Services Department (HSD) for four full time, mobile advocates to assist survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA). As a member of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council and someone who has represented survivors it is abundantly clear to me that we need advocates that are adaptive to the needs of survivors. This means advocates who can provide individualized, flexible, and mobile assistance within survivors’ chosen communities; work directly with landlords and public housing authorities to expand options for survivors; and use a trauma-informed lens to respond to survivors’ and children’s needs related not only to past victimization but ongoing threats, sabotage and violence.
Legal Navigator at King County Courthouse
($76,000 in 2017 / $76,000 in 2018)
This navigator would be the point person in the downtown King County Courthouse to both assess the victim’s civil legal needs and refer them to a civil legal aid provider to provide legal assistance as appropriate to the victim’s needs and circumstances. This would include on-site legal consultation, assistance, and/or “day of” representation for DVSA survivors. Additional services may include legal clinics to provide training, assistance, and support for survivors, advocates, and attorneys on domestic violence protection order declarations, sexual assault protection orders, family law, immigration law, assistance with U Visas and related, referrals to other agencies and attorneys network. The goal is to serve 500 Seattle residents in the initial 12 month period.
Increase in Juror Pay
This budget action would increase appropriations to the Seattle Municipal Court on an on-going basis to allow the Court to increase juror pay from $10 to $25 per day. This is especially important because while Seattle has recently fought for and won a higher minimum wage, juror pay has remained frozen for decades. Increasing juror pay is necessary to ensuring that the Court is able to assemble a jury that is truly made up of our community’s peers.
Democracy Vouchers Outreach!
(No budget action, just a Statement of Legislative Intent)
This Statement of Legislative Intent would ask the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC), in collaboration with OIRA and Department of Neighborhoods (DON), to identify and report on best practices related to outreach to Legal Permanent Residents (LPRS) and limited English proficient residents regarding the Democracy Vouchers program. With the passage of Initiative 122, the SEEC now administers the Democracy Voucher program, a public campaign financing program with funding provided by a voter-approved levy. Consistent with the language of Initiative 122, LPRs are eligible to opt in to the program, receive Democracy Vouchers and assign their vouchers to participating candidates, but unlike registered voters will not automatically receive vouchers under the Initiative. The report, due to Council by April 15, 2017, would identify a plan to ensure LPRs and limited English proficient residents are fully included in the Democracy Voucher program.
My additional proposals:
Home and Hope
($200,000 in 2017 / $200,000 in 2018)
This three year project aims to transform vacant or underutilized tax-exempt sites owned by public agencies and not-for-profit organizations into well-located, quality affordable housing and mixed-use, public benefit development projects. Specifically these funds would produce an inventory and functional database of properties that possess suitable elements for development in the near future; organize community partners and build their capacity to develop the sites as well as coordinate the necessary negotiations between the partners and the public agency that owns the property; and support the delivery of one or two sites in 2017 and an estimated 3 sites per year starting in 2018. Within 5 years we would expect to develop enough sites to produce at least 1500 units of affordable housing.
OIRA Citizenship Workshop
($150,000 in 2017 / $150,000 in 2018)
To meet the demand for citizenship services among the estimated 70,000 eligible Seattle residents OIRA’s New Citizen Campaign would provide expanded, free services through a “mega workshop” for up to 1,000 eligible residents, as well as monthly clinics and work-site programs. The immense success of their first citizenship workshop in October, and increased demand for the next workshop on December 4th, demonstrates the need for further funding.
If you would like to provide your input on the budget you are welcome to offer public comment at upcoming budget committee meetings, send me an e-mail or call my office.