Council President Nick Licata
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Richard Conlin
Councilmember David J. Della
Councilmember Jan Drago
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck
COUNCIL PASSES $926 MILLION 2008 BUDGET
Council adds $3 million for Strategic Pedestrian Safety Initiative, $2 million for library materials, $5.5 million for human services, $4.5 million for parks and neighborhood facilities, and more
SEATTLE – The Council today passed a $926 million General Fund budget to pay for essential city services such as police, fire, parks, human services, and libraries. Councilmember Richard J. McIver, chair of the Budget Committee, said, “Today the Council passed a budget that funds human needs and is fiscally responsible. We enhanced pedestrian safety, human services, neighborhoods, and libraries. I want to thank all the Councilmembers and our staff who worked so hard together to realize our goals.” Not only was the Council able to make vital investments, but it also put another $1.5 million into the “rainy day fund” bringing the fund’s total to over $21 million. Councilmember McIver said, “Seattle has a cyclical economy. The Council knows that we have to invest wisely as well as save money for times when the economy cools off.”
This year, the Council developed a $3 million Strategic Pedestrian Safety Initiative within the overall General Fund as part of their yearlong focus on making Seattle the best city for walking in the nation. The Initiative includes $1,500,000 for new sidewalks and sidewalk repair. Council President Nick Licata, co-chair of the Pedestrian Safety Committee, said, “Sidewalks are the most basic element in pedestrian safety. This money will build new sidewalks where they are greatly needed and will also enable the City to fix broken sidewalks.” The Initiative will also spend $250,000 on improvements to some of the City’s 460 public stairways. Councilmember Jan Drago, chair of the Transportation Committee and co-chair of the Pedestrian Safety Committee, said, “Stairways provide safe passage for schoolchildren, commuters, and pedestrians. This new money will allow the City to light some of the stairwells and maintain many others.” In addition, the Initiative will spend $500,000 for programs that use new pedestrian safety technology like in-pavement flashing crosswalks, crossing flags, pedestrian refuge islands, and pedestrian crossing countdown signals. Councilmember David J. Della, member of the Pedestrian Safety Committee, said, “Seattle has been home to great innovation in aerospace, computers, and coffee; there’s no reason we can’t lead the nation in innovative technology to promote pedestrian safety.” The Council was also able to put $2 million into the library materials budgets that purchases books, CDs, DVDs and other materials for Seattle beloved and much used library system. The Council’s budget action represents a 40 percent increase in the library collections’ fund over the mayor’s proposed 2008 budget. “The Council heard there was a crying need to fill the library shelves and reduce long wait times for library materials,” said Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck. “Clearly, Seattle residents have a passion for their libraries and reading.”
Councilmember Jean Godden said, “Since we truly are in the Information Age, it is more important than ever to keep our libraries’ shelves chock full of the latest, most up-to-date, most exciting materials for Seattleites to check out.”
The Council added $5.5 million for human services in the 2008 budget, including $400,000 for food banks and food delivery. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Housing, Human Services, and Health Committee, said, “Hunger continues to be a problem for vulnerable populations in Seattle. I’m very pleased that the Council has continued its strong commitment to helping feed the most needy in our community.” Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the Environment, Emergency Planning, and Utilities Committee, praised the Council’s investment of $500,000 to help human service organizations develop plans for disasters. “During emergencies, many people including seniors, the disabled, immigrants and refugees, and children will rely on human service organizations to provide critical services. It is vital that these organizations are prepared to take care of people during events such as earthquakes, windstorms, and pandemic flu,” Councilmember Conlin said.
Councilmember Sally J. Clark, chair of Economic Development and Neighborhoods Committee, was pleased by the Council’s funding of programs that will strengthen neighborhoods including $100,000 for neighborhood leadership training. Councilmember Clark said, “Strong neighborhoods are the backbone of a strong city. This money will help neighborhood leaders learn how to successfully advocate for the infrastructure and community building that our neighborhoods need to thrive.” The Council also included $3 million to invest in services that community based organizations can provide if they are able to acquire their facilities.