After two years of heavy cuts and mid-year reductions, the City of Seattle is slowly rebounding from the Great Recession and, despite working to bridge a $32 million General Fund deficit, will start 2013 by adding 133 new FTE positions (including 10 police officers) and working to restore the city's Rainy Day fund to its peak pre-recession level of $30 million, if Mayor Mike McGinn's 2013-2014 budget plan is preserved by the Seattle City Council.
To put our $32 million budget deficit in context, the city's total proposed budget is $4 billion, $951 million of which comprises the General Fund, where our current $32 million deficit resides. But despite that deficit, "for the first time we're looking at a budget that doesn't just make cuts, but makes modest investments in our future," McGinn says. He cautioned that while things are looking "a little sunnier" in Seattle, state budget woes and partisan gridlock in DC could still throw Seattle's progress off a cliff over the next few years.
"Let's all jump off this cliff together," McGinn said. "Shall we?"
Wooooooo! We're Evel Knievel mid-jump! Who the fuck knows where we're going to land—It might be in a pit at the bottom of a cliff in the middle of the desert in racist Arizona but woooooo!!!
For now, let's focus on the positive, shall we? There weren't a lot of surprises in McGinn's biennium budget, since he's been hawking pieces off it all over town the past few weeks. A few highlights include:
· $1.68 million for the Young Violence Prevention Initiative, adding another 450 at-risk youth to the program (bringing the total street youths served to 1,500). · $1 million to expand the sidewalk in front of Macy's, aka the popular bus stop on 3rd Avenue and Pine Street, and to install countdown signals at pedestrian crossings and repaint the sidewalks. · $21 million for upgrading transportation infrastructure, including our pedestrian and bike master plans (greenway developments, figuring out what the fuck to do with the Burke Gilman's missing link, sidewalk repairs). · $8.3 million to put away in our Rainy day fund.
Other cool public investments include:
· Increasing operating hours at seven community centers by 10 hours. · Piloting a program called Career Bridge, which will next year help 360 people with criminal records get job training and assistance.
Here are the other aspects of McGinn's budget that I've covered on Slog: His plan to invest $6 million to get high-capacity transit to Ballard and three other neighborhoods; The $24 million he's allocated for 10 new cops and gunshot locator systems; $500,000 to help poor and working class families pay for childcare.
"We have to look out into the community if we're going to succeed," McGinn said.
But if you're scratching your head, wondering how the fuck the city can jump from filling a $32 million deficit to having the cash monies available to hire new staff and invest millions in public safety and transit, never fear: You're not alone. Thanks to renegotiated labor contracts, an uptick in construction and sales tax revenues, and efficiencies like lighting trash fires in City Hall for warmth, the city budge office forecast $11.4 million in additional revenue through 2014, which helped close Seattle's projected $32 million budget shortfall. So while city departments will still face roughly $20 million in cuts this fall (and next), McGinn says the city will have more funds than expected to invest in these public services.
Which brings us to jobs. While the city will be cutting 39 FTEs, effective January 2, 2013, city departments will also be hiring for over 133 net new FTE positions. But McGinn notes that many of the positions aren't funded through the General Fund. For example, the Department of Planning and Development's 15.50 FTEs and the Seattle Public Library's 46 FTEs will be funded from permit fees and through the Library Levy, respectively.
McGinn's proposal to hire 10 new SPD officers will be funded through the General Fund, as will 13 other SPD positions, mostly in the area of parking enforcement because, **SPOILER ALERT**, next year the city will be debuting a new kickass way to extend your on-street parking stickers via your cell phone.
Whew. That's all I got. Thanks for reading, sorry McGinn skimped on the spectacle corn.