Says additional revenue should be allocated to city reserves and balancing the City’s budget to weather future COVID downturn
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide), Chair of Council’s Budget Committee, issued the following statement after local and federal economic forecasts show improved revenue trajectories:
“As the Seattle City Council gets ready to reveal its draft proposed budget, following weeks of conversation with the community and learning about their and Councilmember priorities, I’m excited, and cautious, about the new data from the federal and local level showing an upward trend in revenues.
“This new forecast, which was shared with Council today, means we have approximately $40 million more in unanticipated funds, to fund the values we share: economic recovery & equity, keeping our community healthy, housed, and safe. And, while we have a number of Seattle priorities, amplified by your councilmembers, to fund, the first items I’ll be looking at have to do with fiscal responsibility and readying ourselves for the next wave of emergencies.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we aren’t ready for the unexpected. Overlapping crises of affordable housing, homelessness, COVID-19, and economic downturn and a civil rights uprising have led us to good questions about who we are as a city and who we want to be. Regardless of where you land on that spectrum, we need to be ready.
“Ready to respond to the next surge in COVID-19 or the next public health outbreak. Ready to house our homelessness neighbors so that everyone has a warm place to be and that our public spaces are available for all. Ready to roll-up our sleeves and fight for equity in community safety. Ready to weather the incredibly volatile economic climate we’ve faced in 2020.
“That’s why, the first items I’ll be looking at in the 2021 budget are to get the city ready. First, the Mayor’s proposed budget was unbalanced by approximately $12 million. It’s our responsibility to pass a balanced budget so that we don’t have to ‘find’ money next year.
“Second, the Mayor’s proposed budget leaves with an unprecedented low $3 million in reserves (less than 1% of the General Fund, and even less than that in the overall budget). Comparatively, during our last economic recession in 2008, the City’s lowest reserves were at $46 million. It’s my goal and responsibility to refill those reserves so that we are ready for 2021 — ready to support our small businesses, immigrant communities, BIPOC community, working families, kiddos and more in case of another COVID outbreak, an economic downturn, and earthquake, or any of the myriad of things that could come our way.
“I’ll be working with you all, and with the Councilmembers representing you, to make sure that we’re ready and that we fund some of your top priorities.
“For today, it’s good news. Rest assured that no matter your political leanings, trust we’re taking responsible steps to be ready for what happens tomorrow, this week, and next year. We’re building a budget that’s strong for not just November, December and January; but for 2021, 2022 and beyond.
“It’s been an honor to work with my Council colleagues and the community during this unprecedented time. As Budget Chair, I want to ensure our city can prepare for the future by bolstering our reserves, to maintain the services we all need, so Seattle can be more economically resilient and we have health, safety and housing for everyone.”