Budget Process

Summary

Each fall, the Seattle City Council undertakes its annual budget process. Between the end of September and the end of November, the City Council conducts budget deliberations driven by a process to not only balance the City’s of Seattle’s budget for the following year (2021), which is a requirement under state code, but to ensure the investments we’re making as a city align with the Council’s shared values.

This page aims to serve as a baseline of information for the public to understand the budget, and engage in the Council’s process.

Public Engagement

Public Comment

Each Budget Committee Meeting allows space for public comment at the beginning of each meeting. To provide public comment, you must register ahead of time. Signup opens 2 hours in advance of the meeting.

Public Hearings

The City Council hosts two dedicated public hearings during its budget season. As with other meetings, signup for public comment two hours before the start of each meeting. 

Engage with Your Councilmembers

Councilmembers use their newsletters to alert their constituents of town halls, office hours, community meetings and other ways to engage with their office during the budget. You can sign up for your Councilmembers newsletter here.

When to Engage

Councilmembers listen to a variety of community stakeholders when considering the City’s annual budget. This includes organized community groups, activists, stakeholders such as businesses and unions, professional organizations and individual constituents.

There are a number of key times for stakeholders to engage their Councilmembers during the budget process:

  • Public Hearing #1
  • Public Hearing #2

Review the calendar below for more information.

Overview & Timeline

The Council begins its budget process by receiving the Mayor’s proposed budget.

Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed her 2021 budget on Sept. 29, 2020. Watch her budget delivery address.

The Council’s job, as defined by the City Charter, is to consider the Mayor’s proposed budget, listen to members of the public, elevate issues and propose changes that are deliberated by the entire Council after robust community stakeholder engagement.

Here is a summary of the budget overview process:

Seattle City Council | Budget Process Overview

Below is a more detailed timeline of the Council’s deliberations:

City Budget Office & Department Presentations

City Budget Office & Department Presentations

September 30 - October 2

The City’s Budget Office presents details on the Mayor’s proposed budget to the Council on Sept. 30, 2020. You can view CBO’s presentation here.  Councilmembers are able to ask questions of various City Departments. This year, Council focused on the following City departments and issues:

Public Hearing on the Budget - Oct 6

Public Hearing #1

October 6 at 5:30 PM

The Council’s first public hearing is an opportunity to hear from the community about their priorities. Sign up for Public Comment starting at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, October 6.

Public Hearing on the Budget - Oct 6

Issue Identification

October 15 - October 21

During issue identification, Council's policy exports present an independent analysis of budget issues flagged for discussion, and presents initial budget proposals submitted by Councilmembers.

Public Hearing on the Budget - Oct 27

Public Hearing #2

October 27 at 5:30 PM

The Council’s second public hearing is an opportunity to hear from the community about their priorities. Sign up for Public Comment starting at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, October 27.

budget-timeline_fall-2020_CBAs-and-SLIs

Council Budget Actions & Statements of Legislative Intent

October 28 - October 30

During this time, Councilmembers officially propose their budget ideas. These happen in two formats:

Council Budget Action: a mechanism to modify the Mayor’s proposed budget to increase or decrease revenues; increase or decrease expenditures for specific programs; increase or decrease staff positions; add or delete a Capital Improvement Project; increase or decrease funding for a Capital Improvement Project; impose a budget proviso on an appropriation

Statement of Legislative Intent: gives guidance on city policy; explains an action, such as providing the rationale for a budget cut.

During committee, Councilmembers discuss in open session their budget proposals, and learn through open discussions whether they have support from their Council colleagues.

budget-timeline_fall-2020_Chair's-Package

Chair's Package

November 10

Budget Chair Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda will present the Chair’s Package, crafted after considering her colleagues’ proposals and considering the Council’s shared priorities and values.

budget-timeline_fall-2020_Committee-Vote

Chair's Package

November 10

After the chair presents her budget package, Councilmembers are able to offer amendments. However, if Councilmembers want to propose additional changes to the Chair’s package, those proposed changes must be self balancing. In other words, if they’re requesting additional dollars toward a certain program, department, initiative or capital project, they must also propose a cut from elsewhere in the budget.

Once all amendments are considered, Council will vote the entire budget package out of committee, and refer it to the Full City Council meeting.

budget-timeline_fall-2020_Council Vote

Council Vote

November 23

The Seattle City Council is expected to take its final vote on the budget on Nov. 23.

Councilmember Perspectives

Budget Chair Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda shares her guiding principles to the budget below:

View Councilmember Mosqueda’s Open Letter to the Community

In the News

Title Outlet Councilmembers Mentioned/Quotes
Want to weigh in on Seattle’s 2021 budget? City Council will hold public hearing Tuesday The Seattle Times Mosqueda
Seattle council members raise questions, concerns about Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2021 budget plan The Seattle Times Sawant, Mosqueda, González, Herbold, Morales, Pedersen,
OPINION: Mayor Durkan’s Austerity Budget Fails Working People and Black and Brown Communities, Fails to Defund Police South Seattle Emerald Sawant
COVID-19, unrest shape Durkan’s ‘difficult’ 2021 budget for Seattle Crosscut Pedersen, Morales

Resources