MAKING IT WORK
Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information, inspire involvement, and make things work in this great city.
December 12, 2005, Volume VII, Issue 11
2006 BUDGET APPROVED
On Monday, November 28, the City Council unanimously adopted the final 2006 budget. The approved budget reflects the good news that the economy has turned around and revenues are growing again, after several years of budget cuts totaling almost $100 million, reflecting both economic hard times and the effects of statewide tax limitation initiatives.
While part of the economic turnaround reflects national trends, the City can also take some credit for the investments we have made in improved public infrastructure and in human services and economic development. The people of Seattle, however, with their creativity and hard work, are the real source of the economic activity that results in increased city revenues, and it is the responsibility of the City to return to them the additional revenues in the form of responsible and thoughtful choices about public expenditures.
Fortunately, the Council did adopt a very prudent budget. We were careful about making ongoing commitments that might not be able to be sustained in the future, directed capital investments towards critical projects that will contribute to our economic vitality and quality of life, and made careful investments in strategic areas that will improve the lives of the people of Seattle.
The most significant changes adopted by the Council included:
- Making major investments in transportation. The Mayor had already proposed to increase transportation spending on street and road maintenance, but the Council added almost $6 million to the Mayor's proposal. The Council's added $3.4 million in capital funds for priority transportation projects, including arterial paving and critical transportation improvements, with the Transportation Department scheduled to return to the Council for approval of a list of projects. The Council also added $560,000 to the Neighborhood Street Fund for traffic calming and other small-scale improvements, and $300,000 to complete the installation of the parking pay stations. The Council also added $628,000 to plan transit alternatives for the Ballard to downtown and West Seattle to downtown corridors to replace the defunct monorail plan, $65,000 to continue planning for a Jackson Street streetcar and a possible downtown streetcar network, $375,000 to create the city's portion of a Catastrophic Failure Plan for the SR 520 Bridge, and $250,000 for enhanced street tree maintenance and replacement.
- Restoring library hours and adding funds for materials. The Council added $961,000 to the library hours budget, allowing the restoration of Sunday and Thursday evening hours and increasing the number of branches that will be open on Sunday. The Council also added $1.5 million to the collections budget, increasing that budget by more than 50%.
- Making major investments in health and human services and public safety. The Council added $275,000 for community health clinics and $260,000 to other human services programs where funding had not been adjusted adequately to account for inflation, thus allowing these services to be maintained. The Council also funded $225,000 for additional emergency food programs, and almost $1.4 million to other human service programs, including emergency shelter, programs for seniors, and a new Center for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgendered Health. In addition to approving the 25 new police officers and 15 new firefighters proposed by the Mayor, the Council added a precinct liaison and mental health court prosecutor, two crime prevention coordinators, $400,000 for a pilot project linking human services and law enforcement efforts, and a budget proviso adding a detective for elder abuse investigations.
- Expanding neighborhood parks and recreation programs. The Council increased the late night recreation program by $257,000, expanding it to three south and west Seattle community centers. The Council also added $250,000 for the Lower Woodland Skateboard Park and $100,000 for a Comprehensive Skatepark System Plan, and $3 million in capital improvements for the Olympic Sculpture Park, Denny Playfield, Dahl Playfield, the Maple Leaf Community Garden, and several other projects.
I sponsored most of the transportation proposals, and many of the additions to the parks projects and health and human services programs, and almost all of my highest priorities were included in this budget. The Council worked as a team, and outstanding work was done by all of the Councilmembers, particularly:
The tireless advocacy of Councilmembers Steinbrueck and Godden on behalf of the libraries;
- The persistence of Councilmember Rasmussen in working to secure more funding for human services and of Councilmember Licata in ensuring that public safety programs were appropriately increased;
- The hard work of Councilmember Della on parks investments and in securing extended hours for late night programs at community centers;
- The thoughtful and careful structuring of the proposed consolidation of Information Technology, a budget area fraught with possible unintended consequences, by Councilmember Compton;
- The commitment of Councilmember Drago to continuing the Council's emphasis on food security and to ensuring the development of our great new downtown park, the Olympic Sculpture Park;
- Most of all, the patient leadership of Councilmember McIver as Budget Chair in keeping things moving, setting priorities, and putting his stamp on issues like transportation infrastructure and making sure that the Council set aside some money for the Rainy Day Fund.
The result of all of this effort is that the City goes into 2006 with a budget that meets key priorities and that is well-positioned to continue those priorities in the 2007-2008 budget cycle.
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"The future can be better than the past, and each individual has a personal moral obligation to make it so."
-- Carroll Quigley
"The journey is difficult, immense, at times impossible, yet that will not deter some of us from attempting it. We cannot know all that has happened in the past, or the reason for all of the events, any more than we can with surety discern what lies ahead. We have joined the caravan, you might say, at a certain point; we will travel as far as we can, but we cannot in one lifetime see all that we would like to see or learn all that we hunger to know..."
-- Loren Eiseley
Citizen participation and engagement are critical for maintaining democracy -- fostering it is a key task of elected officials. It's my hope that this newsletter will inform you about issues, inspire you to get involved, and that together we can make things work better in this great city. Please send me your feedback, so we can keep things lively, interesting, and useful. And please forward it along to friends who might be interested. You can get more information or send me feedback through the City Council website at http://cityofseattle.net/council/
Your Seattle City Councilmember
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