(The Center Square) – The Seattle Budget Committee’s proposed budget amendments clash with Mayor Bruce Harrell’s proposed budget in several ways.
Much of the 2023-2024 budget will rely on revenue from the JumpStart Seattle progressive payroll tax, the Short-Term Rental Tax and the Transportation Network Company Tax to balance the budget.
Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is chair of the Budget Committee. Her amendments seek to end the temporary usage of these funds at the end of 2024 to allow for funds to increase in affordable housing, economic resilience, Green New Deal programs, transit investments and the Equitable Development Initiative.
The Center Square previously reported that the City of Seattle’s forecast has revised down projected revenues for the 2023-24 biennium years. The city is expecting a net decrease of $9.4 million in general fund revenues, a net decrease of $4.5 million in revenues from the Sweetened Beverage Tax and a net $64 million decrease in Real Estate Excise Tax revenues.
The significant decrease in tax revenues comes on top of the $140 million revenue gap facing Seattle. That leaves city officials with a projected revenue gap of around $200 million.
“There weren’t easy answers in this year’s budget, but there were core values to start from: transparency and accountability, investing in key and core city services for our working families and small businesses and preventing cliffs in services and avoiding austerity to ensure a resilient economy,” Mosqueda said in a statement.
Mosqueda’s budget amendments include $253 million dedicated to the Office of Housing for affordable housing next year alone. Because of the JumpStart payroll tax, that is an over $50 million increase over the last budget for constructing rental housing, and creating more supportive services and first-time ownership opportunities.
Nearly $100 million is being proposed send to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. Mayor Harrell’s initial proposed budget dedicated $87.7 to the authority. The budget committee is adding $8.5 made through its amendments.
Mosqueda’s budget amendments also challenge Harrell’s proposed budget for public safety. While the amendment’s will fulfill funding in the city’s Police Recruitment and Retention plan, the budget committee is seeking to keep the parking enforcement unit with the Seattle Department of Transportation temporarily. This counters Harrell’s plan to turn the department’s parking enforcement role back to the Seattle Police Department.
Mosqueda is instead proposing to launch an interdepartmental team to determine final department placement for parking enforcement by April.
The Seattle Police Department would face a $40.5 million reduction in the next two years from the council’s budget amendments. The city’s department of transportation would in turn add $28.3 million in 2023 and $28.8 million in 2024 to eliminate a proposed transfer of the parking enforcement unit.