revenue update

Grim Economic News Leads to Extended Seattle Budget Season

Seattle Budget News

Amy Sundberg
Good morning, and welcome to today’s Seattle budget meeting. I won’t be live tweeting all details (and have to leave for a bit mid-meeting to drop Nala at the vet) but I’ll throw some info up here.
Above you can view my tweet thread on last week’s budget meetings covering proposed amendments for the CSCC, HSD, SDOT, and SPD. However, given yesterday’s bleak revenue forecast, many of the over 100 amendments discussed in last week’s meetings are likely toast. The new forecast foresees a net $64 million decrease in real estate excise tax revenues, a net $9.4 million decrease in general fund revenues, and a net $4.5 million decrease in revenues from the sweetened beverage tax over the next two years (2023-2024). There is also worry that the Jumpstart tax, which as a new tax is hard to predict, might begin to bring in less revenue. The REET revenues are dedicated to capital projects listed in the comprehensive plan, and the sweetened beverage tax revenues go towards “programs that increase access to healthy food and supports children’s health and learning.”
Due to this bad news, the budget season schedule has been changed. The last two public forums for public comment remain at the same times: Tuesday, November 8 at 9:30am and Tuesday, November 15 at 5pm. But everything else has been shifted back by about a week to give Budget Chair Mosqueda time to adjust her balancing package to account for the revenue shortfalls.
Thus, the balancing package will be announced on Monday, November 14. The votes on the balancing package and proposed amendments will take place on Monday, November 21. And then we have to wait until after Thanksgiving for the final budget committee vote on Monday, November 28 and the final Full Council vote on Tuesday, November 29.
The Solidarity Budget has arranged a week of action that began this past Monday. Today the website “Should SPD Do It?” was launched, which I encourage you to go give a spin. Tomorrow will be a call-in day to protect JumpStart. Next week, there will be a webinar on ShotSpotter on Monday at noon, a rally at 8:30am on Tuesday to support human services workers, and a Women in Black vigil on Wednesday at noon. So if you want to get involved, now is a great time!

Other News

The King County Council ratified the new police union contract with KCPOG on Tuesday. In addition to the new powers this contract grants the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) including the ability to subpoena, the contract also gives King County Sheriff deputies a raise of 20% over the next three years: 6% for 2022 (to be paid retroactively), 10% for 2023, and 4% for 2024. This raise will require a substantial increase to the King County Sheriff Office’s overall budget.
This contract was approved right as news dropped of a case from 2021 where a Black female detective from SPD was undercover monitoring a protest and was menaced by two men in a truck who she believed might be Proud Boys…but ended up being KCSO deputies. Both deputies have since left the department, one for a position in the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.
As Will Casey reports in The Stranger, SPD officers have apparently been breathing in toxic gas while on the job, both in the garage and in the sergeant’s workroom adjacent to the garage. It took one SPD officer bringing forward and winning a lawsuit, after being harassed at work for wanting to protect his health, to daylight this issue. As Will Casey says, “If this is making you wonder whether, perhaps, mean statements from City Council members in 2020 doesn’t amount to the sole reason for attrition within the department, then you’re not alone.”
Finally, Seattle has released its Q3 accountability report required by the consent decree, which you can read here.

Recent Headlines

A Road Map for the Fall

Seattle News

Hannah Krieg
Today the council will vote on hiring bonuses for cops. An organizer, TK, from Every Day March called into public comment to accuse the council of lying to Black organizers about their commitment to police accountability and reform during the summer of 2020.

Yesterday the Seattle City Council voted to pass the SPD hiring incentive legislation 6 to 3, with CMs Morales, Mosqueda, and Sawant voting against it. You can see CM Morales’s remarks about why she didn’t support this bill here:

Councilmember Tammy J. Morales
We have a LOT of challenges in this city that cannot be solved with a badge and a gun: inadequate housing options, homelessness, limited behavioral health services.

That’s why I voted no on hiring incentives for SPD yesterday. It passed @SeattleCouncil 6-3. Remarks below:

1/10 https://t.co/AtkCR6oq5f

I-135, Seattle’s social housing initiative, has turned in more signatures and is now aiming to be on the ballot in February 2023, pending signature verification.
The Seattle Times reported that in Q2, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office filed 1,708 cases, an increase of 124% from the same quarter last year.
At Wednesday’s Finance and Housing committee meeting, CMs received the city’s revenue update, and it’s not looking great for 2023 and 2024. The August forecast for 2022 comes in at $1,745,610,000. whereas the August forecast for 2023 is $1,519,120,000 and the August forecast for 2024 is $1,557,310,000. It’s worth noting those forecasts for 2023 and 2024 are the baseline forecasts, not the pessimistic ones.
Erica C. Barnett
Seattle Councilmember @CMTMosqueda has proposed using some JumpStart payroll tax revenues to once again pay for general-fund services in light of the city’s ongoing budget shortfall; funding would come from excess/higher-than-anticipated JS revenues. /1

CM Mosqueda has proposed using some of the JumpStart tax revenues to continue paying for general fund services in 2023 and 2024 to help fill the revenue vs. expenditure gap. The Mayor is also pulling together a progressive revenue task force to look for potential new sources of revenue for the city (think more in the 2025 range for when this could kick in). This news sets the stage for the upcoming budget season.

Looking forward….

The City of Seattle goes on its two week summer break starting on Monday, August 22. Unless something mind-blowing happens during that time, I’m not planning another edition of the newsletter until after Labor Day. But fear not, Budget Season will be upon us before we know it.
Upcoming Dates of Note:
9/13 9:30am: Seattle Public Safety and Human Services committee meeting, where there will be a Q&A with OPA Director nominee Gino Betts
9/20 2pm: potential final Council confirmation vote of Gino Betts as OPA Director
9/25 11am: People Power Washington’s General Meeting; come if you want to hear me talk about budgets (and honestly, who doesn’t want to hear that?)
9/27: Mayor Harrell transmits Seattle’s proposed 2023 budget; Executive Constantine transmits King County’s proposed 2023-2024 budget
10/21: Ballots for the General Election are mailed out to WA voters
11/8: Election Day!
11/22: potential final Council vote for Seattle’s 2023 budget

Recent Headlines

WA state delays watchdog reports on prisons, concerning advocates | Crosscut

TV News Is Ignoring the Eviction Crisis - by Adam Johnson

Local Leaders Announce New Coalition to Address Behavioral Health Crisis - The Stranger

A New Agency Seeks to Hold Washington’s Killer Cops Accountable - The Stranger