Council outlines budget priorities for mayor
(Editor's note: This letter was sent to Mayor Greg Nickels from the Seattle City Council and outlines the council's highest budget priorities for 2010 in preparation for the spending reductions that will be required to achieve a balanced budget.)
Dear Mayor Nickels,
As you are aware, on May, 11 2009 the Seattle City Council passed Resolution 31134 regarding the 2009 and 2010 budgets, acknowledging the need for immediate spending reductions, establishing the council's highest budget priorities in the context of these reductions, and identifying potential cost savings to be considered in preparing the 2010 proposed budget.
As you continue your efforts to develop the 2010 budget, we wish to further inform you of our highest priorities and offer some specific suggestions for your consideration.
Given the economic situation, the council recognizes the need for and supports further budget reductions to reach a balanced budget. We applaud efforts currently underway to meet the severity of the funding downturn through strategic workforce management, including careful and well-reasoned layoffs and negotiated furloughs. Further, the council commits to an additional five to six percent reduction in the legislative department budget to assist in reaching a balanced budget.
While we remains committed to our six areas of greatest concern, we want to reiterate public safety, human services and housing as our highest priorities. More specifically, we have identified the following budget items that we feel should be included or protected in any budget presented for council consideration.
Maintain police officer hiring at levels in the 2010 endorsed budget. These new officers along with appropriate internal redeployment will allow for full funding and implementation of the Neighborhood Policing Plan, which we support.
Maintain domestic violence programs, including contracted services, at levels in the endorsed 2010 budget.
Retain the existing Emergency Management Operations Program’s community outreach specialists.
Protest Pedestrian Master Plan funding at levels in the 2010 endorsed budget and establish a dedicated fund to implement the Pedestrian Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan.
Protect funding for Park Rangers and Community Police Team Officers at levels in the 2010 endorsed budget.
Prioritize youth programs at community centers even if overall center hours must be reduced.
Maintain funding for shelter beds, day center access for both men and women and food bank/fresh meal funding at levels in the 2010 endorsed budget.
Include an additional $500,000 for youth mentoring programs in 2010.
Maintain the city’s financial support for Public Health, and particularly the neighborhood community clinics at the levels in the 2010 endorsed budget.
Continue support for senior programs at the level anticipated in the 2010 endorsed budget.
Preserve library collections at levels in the 2010 endorsed budget.
Additionally, maintain funding for the Neighborhood Matching Fund and neighborhood plan update process to the fullest extent possible.
Finally, we ask that the Revenue Stabilization Account (Rainy Day Fund) not be fully expended in your proposed budget and that a modest financial cushion be held in reserve to help offset any further revenue downturns in 2010.
Again, we thank you for your consideration and look forward to working with you to pass a balanced, equitable and compassionate budget for the coming year.
Council President Richard Conlin,
Council members Tim Burgess, Sally J. Clark, Jan Drago, Jean Godden, Bruce A. Harrell, Nick Licata, Richard J. McIver and Tom Rasmussen