Earlier today Mayor Durkan transmitted her 2019 / 2020 budget to the City Council. On Wednesday of this week the Council will begin our budget deliberations, which last until the week of Thanksgiving. As the Chair of the Select Budget Committee I want to take some time to introduce the budget process to you as well as highlight my budget priorities.
Between now and November 19th all nine Councilmembers will evaluate, discuss, debate and eventually vote on a balanced City budget as required by state law. You can view the budget calendar here. The budget we pass later this fall will be a balanced “biennial” budget, meaning we will adopt the 2019 budget, which is legally enforceable, and we will endorse a 2020 budget, which helps for planning purposes but can be changed both by the Mayor and Council in 2019.
We want to hear from Seattleites everywhere about your budget priorities. Whether it’s to improve a specific project in your neighborhood, to increase access to health care, to build more affordable housing or to support your favorite non-profit, I hope you will take the opportunity to make your voice heard. The three best ways to communicate your budget priorities to Council are to:
- Attend one of the two public hearing during Budget
- October 4, at 5:30 pm, City Hall, Council Chambers 2nd floor
- October 23, at 5:30 pm, City Hall, Council Chambers 2nd floor
NOTE: Parking will be provided at a reduced rate at SeaPark Garage on 6th and Columbia Ave, child care will also be provided. For more information check out our budget website.
- Provide public testimony at a Select Budget Committee hearing. You can see the time when public comment will be received each day on the budget website here. Times Vary.
- Email me at Bagshaw@seattle.gov or find your council representative here.
This is my ninth budget season on Seattle City Council. Each year I continue to learn more, and I will bring that experience to the Council this year as Budget Chair. It is important to have robust and respectful budget process.
My primary goal is to pass a budget that is:
- Fiscally sustainable. One-time revenues should fund one-time needs, and ongoing expenditures should be backed by ongoing revenue sources. We must ensure that we are setting our city up for success in the long-term;
- Crafted through the lenses of race, gender, age, ability and social justice;
- Based on data analysis, and invests in evidence-based best practices to maximize positive outcomes for our city and its residents;
- Transparent; and
- Created through a fair and respectful process. All people should be treated with respect at committee meetings and hearings.
My paramount priorities are to protect the health and safety of all Seattle residents, while also addressing the needs of people who need us most.
With this in mind, I will be working with my council colleagues to invest in:
- Getting more people off the streets and into housing
The numbers of people who are homeless is higher than ever before. The 2018 Count Us In report found that 4,488 people were unsheltered outside in Seattle. We all see it in the form of tents in our greenways and garbage on our city sidewalks. This is unacceptable in a civil and moral society, but to the people experiencing homelessness staying alive is a constant struggle. Struggling to find a path towards stabilization, struggling to stay safe, struggling to find proper facilities, food and health services. We must make effective investments for our most vulnerable neighbors and invest in known results that create healthier outcomes. To have a better picture of homelessness in Seattle, including investments and performance, I am hosting a meeting of the Select Budget Committee on October 3rd dedicated solely on investments and outcomes for people who are homeless.
- Creating cleaner and safer neighborhoodsAll residents, housed and unhoused, deserve to feel safe and healthy. This begins with a coordinated support for first responders have the tools they need to dispatch proper care to those in need; that we are offering proper care to low-acuity cases, so our first responders are available for crisis situations; and ensuring that we have clean healthy neighborhoods where garbage along our streets and in our parks, is cleaned up, and that there are accessible needle drop boxes throughout the city.
- Behavioral Health Treatment on demand and access to quality health careSeattle, like many major cities in the USA, is in the middle of an opioid crisis. It is imperative that when individuals are ready to receive both drug dependency and mental health treatment that they can receive that treatment on demand – that means the same day. People should not have to die waiting to receive access to basic health care. Additionally, we must have a better response for those in need who are either homeless or in a mental health or substance abuse crisis beyond just our ERs and Jail. Our Crisis Solutions Center was a good beginning, yet we need tailored responses to individuals needs so we are creating healthier outcomes more efficiently.
As I continue to champion better transit connections, an age-friendly city, quality education for our children and youth, and equitable access to open space throughout Seattle, I believe our primary focus must be on homelessness and affordable housing so that we all, regardless of income and housing status, can enjoy our Emerald city.