- Council Adopts 2023/24 Budget
- Together We End Gun Violence Symposium
- East Marginal Way Project Update
- OPCD One Seattle Plan Update
Council Adopts 2023/24 Budget
On Monday, the City Council adopted the 2023 budget and endorsed the 2024 budget. I am grateful to Budget Chair Mosqueda for her work in developing this balancing package, which was unusually challenging with the updated revenue forecast last month. While this was a difficult process with plenty of difficult decisions, we as a city have a lot to be proud of in this budget and I’d like to highlight a few items that I sponsored. You can learn more about all of Council’s budget actions and the votes they received via this online tracker.
HSD Provider Contract Inflationary Wage Adjustment: The King County Regional Homelessness Authority notes the 5 largest homelessness service providers in King County have 300 vacancies. These vacancies hinder the ability of providers to carry out their mission. They note “The low wages paid to direct service staff is believed to be one of the most substantial reasons for those vacancies.”
The work of social service provision comes down to people helping people, it is hard work, it can be trauma-inducing work, and staff has been at the frontline of public health risks for the past two and a half years. The ability of the safety net to function depends on staff. Without a workforce, the whole system falls apart. I am thankful for the work of these contractors and for my fellow councilmembers for voting to pass this inflationary wage adjustment as part of our budget.
LEAD/CoLEAD: This budget adds $3 million to the proposed budget for LEAD and CoLEAD in 2023 and $2 million in 2024. LEAD is a nation-leading model that has been replicated in over 80 other communities, including internationally. It’s the strongest model out there for a collaborative response to high volume illegal activity that is related to drugs, mental illness, or poverty.
While LEAD currently serves approximately 750 participants, LEAD unfortunately must turn down most referrals because they lack capacity, and that creates the sense on the street that there is no plan and no one is coming. In the 2020 budget. I am proud to be the primary sponsor of one of two LEAD budget actions that passed as part of the consent package.
Ladder Truck 13 and Medic Unit 26: The preservation of Ladder Truck 13 at Station 37 and Medic Unit 26 will reduce the travel time for associated calls in some parts of West Seattle and South Park from 10 minutes to approximately 6 minutes. Ladder Truck 13 operations will also reduce travel times in parts of South Seattle by an estimated 2-3 minutes. As scores of emails that I’ve received from constituents who have experienced their vital services will testify, these are life-saving minutes.
These units will serve some of our city’s most economically, environmentally, and socially marginalized communities, and I am thankful that my fellow councilmembers passed this as part of the consent package.
Office of Labor Standards (OLS) Funding: Earlier this year, Council unanimously passed PayUP, a legislative package which ensures app-based delivery workers are paid minimum wage plus expenses and tips. The legislation also creates more transparency in terms of employment and how payments for services are split between workers and the app-based companies. Since the end of the Civil Emergency Proclamation and the Gig Worker Premium Pay Ordinance that depended on that proclamation, we’ve received emails from app-based delivery workers who are struggling without these protections.
Budget funding for OLS ensures the office will be able to develop the rules and the enforcement policies for when PayUp goes into effect. These protections will cover one of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy.
Gun Violence Reduction: I am proud to have sponsored a budget action that includes funding to expand the King County Public Health gun violence prevention initiative based at Harborview to the 25-40 age group. Currently, the programming serves only those 24 years old and younger. Data from Seattle Police Department has shown that this is a necessary expansion of our funded programs.
Dual Dispatch: Council has allocated funding for the dispatch of civilian staff to augment the current response to 911 calls with a mental/behavioral health nexus, strengthening our public safety network by diversifying our 911 response options.
Emergency Communications Dispatchers: Additionally, I want to thank Budget Chair Mosqueda for her leadership and Council Central Staff for their ingenuity in finding the funds necessary to propose and pass an updated version of a budget action I proposed in our original amendment package, increasing the capacity of our Community Safety and Communications Center.
Seattle Police Department: The Seattle Times editorial board incorrectly wrote today that Council voted to permanently decrease the size of the police department. The correct information is that Council abrogated 80 unfunded vacant positions that SPD will not be able to fill for several years. The Seattle Times Editorial Board did not explain that there are 130 additional unfunded vacant positions still in the budget that can be funded in the future if hiring increases beyond projections in response to the hiring incentives that the Council funded.
If hiring trends keep pace with the predicted net increases of 15 officers per year in 2023 and 2024, it will take an additional ten years to achieve all of those 130 unfunded vacant positions that remain in the budget. If SPD is vastly more successful at hiring than the current pace, the Mayor or Council could propose adding more positions. The abrogation does not have to be “permanent” as the Seattle Times claims.
For instance, the Mayor proposed the abrogation of 26 911 positions that won’t be filled, even though staffing is far below what is needed according to a 2016 study and the non-emergency line sometimes goes unanswered. Council, in our budget, added 2 more funded 911 positions into the budget because we believed the Community Safety and Communications Center could fill those positions despite the recruitment challenges they face.
The idea that what is voted in one year’s budget could be “permanent” suggests either a misunderstanding of our municipal legislative body or an intentional effort to misguide the public.
The editorial goes on to say that if Mayor Harrell “wanted the 80 cop positions, he should have publicly fought for them.” What a terrible and divisive suggestion! I’m grateful that the Mayor understands that a public fight about a vote on a sensible budgetary policy to promote transparency, that has no impact whatsoever on police hiring, should not be turned into a misinformation campaign about Council support for police hiring. To do so might result in fewer people applying to become officers and more current officers leaving, like we’ve seen over the past 2 years. The last Mayor misinformed the public about a similar amendment last year. Mayor Harrell knows what’s most important- that Council support for funding SPD’s hiring plan is most important. His One Seattle vision is that we are stronger when we amplify our policy areas of agreement and we are weaker when what is heard most loudly is where we disagree. I’m sorry that the Seattle Times editorial board wants us to go back to that way of governing. It will not make us safer.
Together We End Gun Violence Symposium
Last month, I had the privilege of participating in a symposium entitled Together We End Gun Violence, convened by King County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Bruce Harrell, and Renton Councilmember Ed Prince. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from the people doing this deeply impactful work in our community.
The one-day symposium centered around amplifying commitments to work together to support community-led solutions to combat gun violence, strengthening our region’s multi-initiative, multi-organization networked approach to provide intervention, prevention, and restorative services.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility has posted a video from the symposium on Youtube. You can watch the entire symposium here to learn more about the work our region is doing to prevent involvement in gun violence, intervene when necessary, and create pathways to restoration for all that are impacted by trauma, for survivors, for people involved in the criminal legal system, and for families and community members.
East Marginal Way Project Update
SDOT has reached a final design for the north segment of the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project, now advertising for construction contractors to bid on this segment of the project. The multimodal improvements will increase safety and accessibility for bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers alike along the corridor.
The North Segment project construction is scheduled to begin in 2023. A more specific groundbreaking schedule will be announced once a contractor is selected and material procurement processes begin. Construction will disrupt traffic on East Marginal Way S, with detours and rerouting planned for all non-Port of Seattle vehicle traffic, and for people walking or biking.
This project was made possible by a variety of funding sources at the federal, state, and local levels, but most notably by the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle, approved by voters in 2015.
OPCD One Seattle Plan Update
The Office of Planning and Community Development has reached some significant milestones in their update to the city’s comprehensive plan. In November, they published the plan’s Environmental Impact Statement scoping report and detailed comment summary.
OPCD is also holding a series of public meetings to gain additional feedback around the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan. One of these public engagement events will be next week in District 1.
Please consider joining me at one of the first large in-person meetings that OPCD has been able to host since the COVID outbreak.
This meeting will be an opportunity to learn more about the One Seattle Comprehensive Plan and how it might shape our neighborhoods, and to provide critical feedback and insights that will help to shape how the City invests in our District over the next 20 years.
The meeting info is below.
Thursday, December 8:
South Seattle College, Brockey Center
6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
Accessible via Metro Bus: 125 and 128