Share story

The Seattle City Council approved the city’s 2015 budget Monday, including about $8.5 million in allocations not in Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal, mostly for social services.

To make up for the additions, the council cut Murray’s allocations by about $1.4 million, increased the city’s business-license fee to add $1.1 million, dipped into reserve funds for $3.5 million and updated projected revenues by almost $2 million, staff said.

“Public involvement resulted in a more responsive city budget that emphasizes human services, social justice and labor standards,” said Councilmember Nick Licata.

Kshama Sawant was the lone council member to vote against the budget. She praised the council’s amendments but said they were not nearly dramatic enough. The 2015 budget will total about $4.8 billion, including approximately $1 billion in general-fund spending.

Sawant’s “no” vote followed her decision last month to step outside of the council’s traditional public-hearing process and host a “People’s Budget Town Hall” event.

“The movement for a people’s budget has won important improvements to the mayor’s business-as-usual budget, and we will not stop fighting until the needs of regular people in Seattle are met, such as affordable housing and an end to regressive taxation,” said Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party.

The council also endorsed a 2016 budget plan. Licata, who chairs the council’s budget committee, vowed to use a “community participatory budget process” next year.

In approving the 2015 budget, the council voted to tie an allocation of $250,000 for the Seattle Police Department to an assessment of whether to implement an acoustic gunshot-locator system. Such systems use microphones and sensors placed throughout an area to identify gunshots and triangulate their locations.

The council’s allocations included $1 million across 2015 and 2016 for an adaptive signal-control system along the Mercer Street corridor.

The move is aimed at cleaning up the so-called “Mercer Mess” in South Lake Union. Street sensors will send data on traffic conditions to a computer, which will then change the timing of the signals. The system could be operating by the end of 2016.

Councilmember Jean Godden noted that the council added a combined $500,000 in 2015 and 2016 to help establish paid parental leave for city employees, calling the decision “one example of our commitment to end the gender wage gap.”

The council’s largest cut to Murray’s proposed budget was a $1 million reduction over 2015 and 2016 in funds available for police overtime. The council also reduced Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s reserve fund by nearly $300,000 over two years.

Roughly half of the city’s general fund is spent on public safety.

The city’s business-license fee will increase $20 for large businesses, from $90 to $110, and somewhat less for smaller businesses.

The budget now goes to the mayor to sign.

Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or dbeekman@seattletimes.com