This week, the Seattle City Council will finalize the amendments and legislative actions they'll bake into the 2021 budget package. Starting Wednesday, council members will vote on which issues should receive city funding based on the issues they identified in last week's meetings. Before all those votes are cast, the public gets a say.
Tough decisions lie ahead for the council. In order to accommodate for COVID-19 budget shortfalls, Mayor Jenny Durkan's 2021 budget proposal made deep cuts in the Seattle Department of Transportation budget, the Parks and Recreation Department budget, and Seattle's Green New Deal commitments, to name a few. On top of that, critics believe Durkan hasn't done enough to reduce the Seattle Police Department's budget outside of moving civilian departments outside of SPD.
Council members listed their priorities last week, but not all of the proposals will survive this week's voting process. The council is trying to add funding back into the 2021 budget where they believe it matters. For instance, they want to save pedestrian and biking projects (or, if Councilmember Alex Pedersen has his way, maybe scrap those projects to maintain bridges). Multiple council members want to beef up the Seattle Fire Department's non-police emergency response program, Health One. Others want to increase hygiene access for the homeless. The litany of identified issues can be found buried in last week's agendas.
Tomorrow evening, Tuesday October 27, the public can weigh in on what they believe matters in a council meeting scheduled only for public comment. From 5:30 p.m. until as long as it takes to hear from everyone who signs up, the full council will listen to public testimony for up to two minutes per person. The public budget hearing earlier this month lasted over four hours.
Got opinions on the future of homelessness outreach? Where the $100 million allocated to communities of color should come from? Defunding the police? Thoughts on whether we should revive the Night Mayor? Maybe you've prepared a song about trees? Then sign up tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m. to speak. We still have about a month of the budget season left to go, but this is the last week for the council to decide what to prioritize in the final 2021 budget package.