A Seattle City Council committee added funding for homeless services to the city’s 2016 budget. Final approval is planned for Nov. 23.
The Seattle City Council’s budget committee voted on changes to the city’s 2016 budget Monday, including allocations not in Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal.
The tweaks include more funding for homeless services. Murray earlier this month proclaimed a state of emergency in the city to address increased homelessness.
The mayor at the time announced $5 million in emergency funding, on top of the more than $40 million the city spends annually on homelessness. But services providers and advocates lobbied the council for more, calling Murray’s plan insufficient.
Councilmember Nick Licata, budget-committee chairman, initially suggested diverting $2.3 million from the city’s rainy-day fund. But what the committee approved instead Monday was an additional $2.3 million from the general fund.
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“There’s an old saying that you should ‘put your money where your mouth is,’ and today I’m pleased that my colleagues unanimously joined me in investing an additional $2.3 million beyond the $5 million the mayor recommended,” Licata said.
The mayor’s proposed budget totaled about $5.1 billion in spending, including capital funds, with $1.1 billion in general-fund spending.
Monday’s changes, if approved by the full council Nov. 23, will tally no more than $15 million, a council spokeswoman said.
The other new allocations the budget committee approved include $600,000 for projects advancing the city’s goal of zero detention for youth, $100,000 to manage business vacancies in the Chinatown/International District and Little Saigon, $1 million to provide certain low-income Seattle Public Schools students with transit passes, and nearly $100,000 for a nonprofit organization to educate tenants about their rights.
The changes call for the city to pay for the additions by tapping newly forecast revenues, including real-estate excise-tax revenue, by moving money around and by making some reductions, such as eliminating two park-ranger positions.
The budget committee also passed several statements of legislative intent providing guidance and requesting information on policy items.
For example, one statement asks the Seattle Department of Transportation for a progress report on its work combating congestion on the West Seattle Bridge.
Council members clashed Monday mostly over a number of changes brought forward by Councilmember Kshama Sawant. The committee voted down her proposals to allocate $10 million for homeless services from an emergency fund, launch a $5 million municipal-broadband pilot program with money from a business tax, and set aside $1.5 million for a potential extension of paid parental-leave for city employees.
Her proposal that the city evaluate the feasibility of opening an LGBTQ community center on Capitol Hill was substituted for a related proposal by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
The committee did approve Sawant’s statement of legislative intent requesting policy work on rent control for commercial properties.
The committee’s package of changes also includes an ordinance authorizing the mayor to sign an agreement to house some misdemeanor inmates at the Snohomish County Jail.
All nine members of the council sit on the budget committee. Councilmember Bruce Harrell was absent Monday.