The Seattle City Council is asking people with thoughts and concerns about the city’s 2021 budget to speak up Tuesday.
The council’s budget committee, which is reviewing a 2021 plan submitted last week by Mayor Jenny Durkan, will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m.
People who want to deliver comments must register on the council’s website and then call in to the hearing by phone. The registration form will open two hours before the hearing is scheduled to begin. More information about the process is available on the council’s website.
Durkan’s budget calls for $6.5 billion in total spending next year, including $1.5 billion in general fund spending. Her plan would use cuts across departments, money from emergency reserves and the council’s new Jump Start tax on big businesses to close a revenue hole created by the COVID-19 crisis and to allocate $100 million in yet-to-be-determined investments for communities of color.
Council members have raised some concerns about the mayor’s plan, suggesting that debates over the summer about COVID-19 relief, police spending and community input are likely to continue.
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has questioned Durkan for promising $100 million to communities of color without a dedicated revenue source. To balance her budget, including the $100 million, the mayor wants to tap the JumpStart tax that Mosqueda championed for COVID-19 relief.
More money from the tax would be available for COVID-19 relief were the $100 million to come from somewhere else, like cuts to the Police Department, some community advocates have pointed out, Mosqueda has said.
Some council members have indicated they want to divest from the Police Department and invest in alternative services on a shorter timeline than Durkan’s 2021 budget calls for.
The mayor has said she intends to convene a task force of community leaders to advise on the $100 million. That approach has drawn criticism from the coalition King County Equity Now, which has launched a research project to connect Seattle residents with City Hall budget decisions.
This month, council members will delve into Durkan’s budget plan and draw up potential amendments. A second public hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 27. The budget committee’s meetings are listed on the committee’s website. In November, the council will debate amendments to the mayor’s plan and vote to approve the city’s budget for 2021.