Council committee recommends 2014 budget with focus on public safety, education and moving homeless families off the streets
Information from Seattle City Council
City Council’s Budget Committee recommended this afternoon that the City’s 2014 budget place higher priority on public safety, education and moving homeless families and youth off the streets. The Committee voted 8-0 to advance the budget legislation to the full Council for final adoption next Monday.
“We prioritized funding for enhanced public safety and improved management of the Police Department, education services for our children, and moving our homeless neighbors off the streets,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess, chair of the Budget Committee.
The committee acted after listening to hundreds of people from across Seattle in public hearings and through e-mails, letters and phone calls. With city revenues inching upward following the Great Recession, the Council was able to strategically increase investments in the following areas:
Public Safety. The Council approved $3.1 million to enhance public safety in all neighborhoods, including downtown.
· $1.1 million to fund expansion of the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program throughout downtown neighborhoods, while requiring it to remain focused on low-level drug and prostitution-related offenders, and to create a new Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) made up of police, mental health and social service providers to tackle street crime and disorder. New leadership and coordination of these efforts, in addition to meaningful data collection and reporting, will provide a clear understanding of the success of these programs in improving public safety in downtown neighborhoods.
· $55,000 to maintain a victim advocate for sexually exploited youth in the Police Department after federal funding expires in May 2014.
· $230,000 to add two positions in the City Attorney’s Criminal Division to prosecute new and more complex DUI cases.
· $200,000 to fund Mayor-elect Murray’s nationwide search for a permanent Police Chief.
· $500,000 to fund an independent management assessment of the Police Department, including a review of how police resources are deployed.
· $1,000,000 to create a Force Investigation Team in the Police Department to review officer use of force incidents, an important step required by the City’s agreement with the Department of Justice.
Education and Early Learning. The Council added over $650,000 to increase learning opportunities for Seattle’s children.
· $488,000 to fund the design and implementation standards for a voluntary, high-quality universal preschool program for all of Seattle’s three- and four-year-old children.
· $168,000 to expand the Early Learning Academy to train more child care providers in evidence-based teaching strategies to better prepare their students to thrive in kindergarten.
· The Council adopted an intent statement calling for creation of a new Department of Education & Early Learning where the city government’s various initiatives in this arena can be consolidated and integrated with the work of the Seattle School District.
· To help the School District address overcrowding of school buildings in many neighborhoods, the Council directed City departments to speed up permitting for school construction.
· The Council also required that new literacy programs, such as Read and Rise, demonstrate positive results when compared with evidence-based programs.
Homeless Families and Young Adults. The Council added $880,000 to move families and young adults living on the streets into housing.
· $130,000 to keep open 20 existing shelter beds for young adults that had been threatened with closure.
· $650,000 to boost efforts to move homeless families—especially those with children—into housing faster using multiple strategies consistent with the regional policies and practices of the Committee to End Homelessness and the Family Homelessness Initiative.
· $100,000 to help re-house people living in their vehicles that are participating in the Road to Housing program (formerly called the Safe Parking program).
A summary of the entire list of Council budget actions is available here.
Here is what councilmembers say about the budget passed by the committee:
Council President Sally J. Clark: “Last year, 268 young adults used the 20 shelter beds that will be saved by this funding from Seattle and King County. Keeping these shelter beds open means that young people will have a safe place to sleep and be connected to services that will move them off the streets and towards jobs, health care, and permanent housing.”
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw: “I am delighted that we on the Council will support expansion of the LEAD program and will fund the Multi-Disciplinary Team to tackle many of the issues we see downtown. My goal is to provide human services and mental health service to those who need it, and coordinate with our police, our neighbors, and our business leaders to solve our street problems. I want Seattle to be THE place where people want to live, work, and visit.”
Councilmember Tim Burgess: “Supporting the education of Seattle’s children is a high priority of the Council. We took another major step toward providing voluntary, universal preschool for the city’s three- and four-year-old children by funding the design of the program and its high-quality standards. We also directed that a new Department of Education and Early Learning be created and reinforced our requirement that education programs funded by the City demonstrate effectiveness.”
Councilmember Richard Conlin: “I am pleased that the Council added funds to increase community involvement through Seattle ReLeaf. This is a critical first step in implementing our new Urban Forest Stewardship Plan. I’m also thankful that we are funding the first phase of the Neighborcare Meridian Center for Health, adding money to the Fresh Bucks program, supporting the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, helping the Chinatown/International District work on earthquake safety, increasing the City investment in the Vera Project, and adding more support for immigrant domestic violence survivors, among other important projects. It’s a good sustainable budget that invests in our City and our neighborhoods.”
Councilmember Jean Godden: “I am pleased that the Council is taking important steps towards closing the gender pay gap and embracing family-friendly policies. Affordable childcare and parental leave are urgent needs, we are studying how the city can get there. We are also restoring key services cut during the recession, including funds to keep the Seattle Animal Shelter open to the public one extra day per week.”
Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell: “The Council prioritized and focused on a new approach to address street crimes and disorder in Seattle. “Moving forward, we have a strong plan to ensure the programs the City has strategically invested in are held accountable and measured for effectiveness. Council listened to the residents and businesses in the Chinatown-International District, Pioneer Square, Belltown, and Downtown. On a quarterly basis, the City will be required to measure and document the extent and location of the problems and report on progress being made to resolve the identified problems.
“The City will also make a critical investment into fair housing for all residents by funding an audit of housing discrimination which will assist in the enhancement of policies to reduce discriminatory housing practices.”
Councilmember Nick Licata: “With the Council’s support of $200,000 in the budget to increase emergency shelter capacity for unsheltered families, I believe next year we may accomplish a goal we set for 2012. In 2012, the Council made it a priority that homeless families should not be unsheltered while waiting for housing assistance. We have made big investments in housing and homelessness programs, but there are only 220 family shelter beds in King County and no significant family shelter capacity has been added in several years. Today’s action is critical to the nearly 250 families in King County sleeping with their children outside, in cars, or in abandoned buildings.”
Councilmember Mike O’Brien: “I’m proud to see the Road to Housing program going citywide as a result of this budget after the pilot helped successfully demonstrate a public-private model for helping rehouse people living in their vehicles, which are the single largest share of unsheltered people in our city.”
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen: “The Council has given clear direction that pedestrian and bicycle safety is a priority. We increased funding for the Fauntleroy Way S.W. and the downtown cycle track projects. The added funds will allow those projects to be designed and built earlier than anticipated.
“I’d also like to thank the Council for its continued support for senior citizens by increasing funding for senior centers.”