Last evening, the Chair of the Seattle Council Budget Committee, CM Lisa Herbold, released her initial package of budget changes. This is a set of proposed amendments to the budget the Mayor proposed last month. The initial package reflects updated revenue assumptions and council member requests.
For transit advocates, the most notable elements are (a) the absence of any request to cut Center City Connector funding; (b) the statement of intent to consider speed and reliability improvements in South Lake Union and First Hill; and (c) several pedestrian improvements. Without an amendment to reduce streetcar funding, that part of the mayor’s proposed budget moves forward.
Budget pressures were eased somewhat by $2 million in extra general fund revenues identified in the revenue update, mostly due to increased construction activity. There were also $2 million in other savings identified by staff across city operations. Those updates eased any pressure to seek new savings in the budget.
With a short timeline to finalize the budget, most attention is now on a controversial proposal for a “head tax” on employment at firms with more than $5 million in gross revenues to fund homeless services. Several council members prefer other revenue sources, and the mayor favors using new fees on short-term rentals.
Final approval of the 2018 budget is scheduled for November 20.