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Council News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   
11/17/2008  1:30:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Tom Van Bronkhorst, Godden Office (206) 684-8807;
Rob Gala, Conlin Office (206) 684-8805

Councilmember Jean Godden
Council President Richard Conlin
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Jan Drago
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Richard McIver
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

CITY'S 2009 – 2010 BIENNIAL BUDGET VOTES PUT 'PEOPLE FIRST'
Council increases human services; violence and hunger prevention big winners

Seattle – Standing in front of the Chicken Soup Brigade meal distribution facility, members of the Seattle City Council, led by Budget Chair Jean Godden and Council President Richard Conlin, today announced final budget committee actions for the 2009-2010 biennial City budget.

The proposed general fund spending for the City amounts to $910 million in 2009 and $940 million in 2010 respectively. The annual budget for 2009 represents a $15 million decrease in spending from 2008, but in reality represents even more fiscal discipline when the rising labor, fuel, and materials costs are taken into consideration.

Council Budget Committee Chair Jean Godden said, "The Council is acutely aware of how national economic trends are affecting people. We've done our level best in this budget to make sure that Seattle keeps its residents safe and that basic needs are met."

Council President Conlin said, "This budget demonstrates that Seattle has made sound fiscal choices over the years and that we are in relatively good shape despite the drop in revenue. Seattle will maintain core services: public safety, food and shelter, transportation, and public libraries, without dipping into reserves."

The biennial budget includes $2.5 million in new money for homeless services including increased funding for eviction prevention, the First Methodist Church shelter, 70 new shelter beds for individuals relocated from encampments, and capital funding for an additional 32 housing units for the homeless. The final package also includes $975,000 in new money for increased Food Stamp outreach and recruitment, food bank bulk food purchases, and home grocery deliveries for the elderly, disabled, and chronically ill.

Councilmember Jan Drago said, "This has been a very difficult budget year, but I am proud to say that even with revenue shortfalls we are preserving our commitment to our most vulnerable citizens. Not only did we maintain funding for current food programs, but the Council increased hunger assistance significantly beyond the Mayor's proposal."

The Council also restored $417,000 for Senior Centers in addition to a partial restoration of Policy Advocacy Programs, which primarily benefit low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities by leveraging other funds to help Seattle's disadvantaged.

In addition, the Council made substantive changes to the Mayor's Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. "The issue of youth violence is very complicated and not easy to resolve quickly," said Councilmember Tim Burgess. "The Council committed to both short-term and long-term solutions by adding funds for youth mentoring programs and enhanced case management. The problem of youth violence tears at our city's soul, and we must act decisively to protect our children." In addition, the Council restored $950,000 in funding for three community-based anti-crime programs, Communities Uniting Rainier Beach (CURB), Get Off the Streets (GOTS), and Co-STAR, the Court Specialized Treatment and Access to Recovery Services.

The Council also responded to calls for greater citizen engagement by investing in the development of a Citizen Portal to increase citizen access. Councilmember Bruce Harrell states, "I believe we have approved smart investments in our future with funding for certain areas such as our Citizen Engagement through Technology and the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. At the same time, we demonstrated fiscal discipline with our determination that many of City Light's (SCL) expenditures being requested were not prudent at this time."

The Council added $2 million for design and implementation of the Linden Street Improvement project to increase safety, along with traffic calming measures in neighborhoods. Councilmember Sally J. Clark said, "Even in tough economic times we can't short change our commitment to safe, affordable and sustainable neighborhoods. This budget reflects a strong commitment to neighborhood planning and infrastructure."

"The Council has stayed true to its promise of putting people first and providing as much funding as possible for the most vulnerable. As Chair of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee I am particularly gratified that we have minimized cuts to parks services and maintenance even in these challenging times," said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.

Councilmember McIver said, "Fortunately, Seattle's budget problems don't begin to approach the magnitude of those currently facing King County or the state. While we've been forced to take a little belt tightening in this budget cycle, I fear the continued economic downturn could well present us with much tougher choices next year."

The budget does eliminate a number of positions including five full time employees in the Office of Economic Development, 16 FTEs in SCL, and up to ten positions requested in Seattle Public Utility's (SPU) rate proposal. Council also cut two positions from its green building team in the Department of Planning and Development, but the City plans to shift existing staff resources in order to maintain existing capacity to plan energy efficiency investments.

In June, the Council passed Resolution 31063, outlining the 2009-2010 budget priorities and calling out six core city services to protect: human services and housing, pedestrian safety, public safety, environmental stewardship, transportation, and neighborhood planning. The Council received the Mayor's proposed budget on September 30 and has spent the last six weeks listening to community input, analyzing the needs of the City, and making the necessary choices required to maintain the key initiatives in the priority areas identified in Resolution 31063.

The budget committee will vote to adopt the final budget balancing package on Monday, November 24 at 2:00 PM in chambers. The full Council will consider and vote upon the budget committee's recommendations immediately following the budget committee meeting. For more information on the budget process visit the Council website at www.seattle.gov/council.

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