skip to main content
KUOW Blog
caption: Seattle City Council member Debora Juarez, right, speaks as council members Kshama Sawant, left, and Teresa Mosqueda sit nearby before the council voted to approve a tax on large businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks to fight homelessness, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Seattle.
Enlarge Icon
Seattle City Council member Debora Juarez, right, speaks as council members Kshama Sawant, left, and Teresa Mosqueda sit nearby before the council voted to approve a tax on large businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks to fight homelessness, Monday, May 14, 2018, in Seattle.
Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Human services in, costly renovations out in new Seattle City Council budget

The city of Seattle could slim down its programs in 2023 and 2024, now that it's facing an additional $80 million revenue shortfall, on top of the $140 million deficit it had already forecasted.

Today, Seattle City Council Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda proposed a re-balanced version of next year's budget.

The council proposes doubling the amount of school-zone red light cameras and raising vehicle license fees by $10. Both are intended to bring in more revenue, while the city projects it will have revenue losses from the Real Estate Excise Tax, sugary drink tax, and other sources in 2023-2024.

"In some ways, this is not a feel-good budget and it cannot be in the midst of an economic downturn", Mosqueda said. "But overall, I feel good about the decisions made to balance this budget and balance those priorities."

Mosqueda said to slim down the budget Mayor Bruce Harrell proposed, she and council members want to reduce spending on new programs or those that don't directly serve residents. Those reductions include, but are not limited to:

  • Cutting the proposed Unified Care Team (which responds to and clears homeless encampments) from 10 to five employees
  • Reducing play area renovations by $322,000
  • Reducing Bumbershoot workforce development by $200,000
  • Reducing a proposal for renovating City Hall Park by $2.5 million
  • Reducing sidewalk safety repair by $4 million
  • Taking out a proposal for three new graffiti abatement staff

Instead, Mosqueda said the focus is on funding for housing, health and safety, and making Seattle a connected city.

The council also wants to keep traffic enforcement under the Department of Transportation, denying Harrell's plan to move enforcement officers to the Seattle Police Department.

The city council plans to vote on the budget by the end of the month. They learned of the city's projected $80 million revenue shortfall from city finance staff earlier this month, mid-budget proposal.

As for whether to create a new tax to fill the budget hole, Mosqueda has said the city needs new progressive taxes. But she said the budget is not the place to have policy discussions.

Update notice: This story was updated on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 3:23 p.m. to clarify that the city is projecting an additional $80 million shortfall, in addition to an anticipated $140 million budget deficit.