Budget Chair Mosqueda Passes Legislation to Improve City Budget Process, Transparency & Stability

SEATTLE – Seattle City Council Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8 – Citywide) passed two pieces of legislation through the Budget Committee today that make the City of Seattle’s budget process more transparent, accountable, and sustainable for future years.  

“Managing a $7.8 billion budget for a local government with 13,000 employees is a large and complex task. These budget transparency bills put additional tools in the City’s toolbox to manage the budget and provide transparent fiscal information to the public. This advances good governance practices. It moves us closer to a vision of biennial budgeting and a more transparent 6-year financial plan outlook,” said Budget Chair Mosqueda. 

The legislation legally memorializes enhanced processes and improved practices that will drive greater fiscal transparency for the City, and better inform the deliberative processes between the Legislative and Executive branches as a balanced budget is finalized each year. The legislation advances key recommendations that resulted from the workgroup Chair Mosqueda requested in the fall of 2022. The workgroup made eight recommendations to Chair Mosqueda’s committee.  

The two pieces of legislation are the Fiscal Transparency Ordinance and the Budget Process Resolution. The Fiscal Transparency Ordinance would, among other things, make changes to the Seattle Municipal Code to establish fiscal transparency requirements from the City Budget Office to the City Council, create new reporting requirements that would give the Council more information about the financial impacts of proposed legislation before casting votes, and improve access to information.  

The Budget Process Resolution would make the first meaningful updates to the Council’s budget process, which has not been updated in 30 years. Among the enhancements, the resolution updates the process for mid-year budget changes, outlines a new process to increase collaboration between the Council and Mayor for managing reserves, and creates additional financial reporting requirements to increase transparency.  

Why it matters 

Collectively, this legislation is intended to:  

  • Increase information for the Council and the public about City budgeting, reporting, and use of resources.  
  • Focus resources on financial monitoring and planning, to improve the City’s financial management and the information available to budget decision-makers.  
  • Create sustainable budgets, which maintain appropriate service levels and performance.  

Beginning with the 2023-2024 biennium, the City Council and Mayor collaborated to adjust the budget process that, while not a true biennial budget process due to various constraints, is intended to reap some of the benefits offered by a biennial budget process. Biennial budgeting allows for more predictable and durable resourcing decisions for departments and organizations that rely on City funding as well as fewer changes to consider in the review of the second year of a biennium. The updated Budget Process Resolution codifies these new practices. 

What’s next?

After today’s passage at the Budget Committee, the final vote will take place during the Full City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 5 at 2 PM.   


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