The Seattle City Council has approved a massive $7.4 billion budget for the fiscal year 2023–2024. The tally was 6-3 in favor.
From low-cost housing to increased security, a wide variety of priorities is covered by the massive budget. The rising rate of inflation and the accompanying economic instability in the coming two years are important motivating factors for the council.
Over the next two years, the city will invest $500 million in low-cost housing. It’s the single highest expenditure on housing-related services in Seattle’s history.
According to Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, “the great bulk of funds goes towards creating additional affordable homes,” which includes “first-time homeownership chances” and “funding to help persons being securely housed.”
After a student was shot and murdered at Ingraham High School earlier this month, the council allocated $4 million to support student mental health.
“Youth leaders were instrumental in bringing all parties to the table for this discussion. So that they could have a say in how those funds would be used, they requested more leeway “Mosqueda said.
The pupils pleaded for money to be allocated to mental health programs run by the school and the local community. Natalya McConnell, a Junior, was instrumental in planning the student-led demonstration at city hall 2 weeks ago.
McConnell remarked, “It simply demonstrates that with movements and organization of kids, if we stand together united, we can achieve huge improvements for the whole Seattle schools.”
Seattle citizens are understandably concerned about public safety, but councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Sara Nelson, who voted against the budget, saw it differently.
According to Nelson, “eliminating 80 permanent employees is needless. We should have given SPD the option of using pay savings to address unexpected demands.” A majority of the 80 available police officer posts went vacant. SPPD may expand its workforce by more than 120 roles. Pedersen said in a statement that the proposed budget might hamper recruitment and retention efforts for law enforcement personnel.
Since public safety is a top concern, Councilmember Mosqueda stated, “We’ve added funds for regional peacekeepers, funding for mental health services, gender-based violence support, juvenile violence reduction strategies, and gun crime reduction initiatives.”
The opinions of the people living and working in Seattle were crucial in shaping this budget. Over the course of the last ten weeks, the Council has completed 3 public hearings, and 9 public committee discussions, heard from hundreds of community people and presented approximately 200 modifications.
There is broad community support for Councilmember Mosqueda’s proposed budget. Councilmember Mosqueda and the City Council have passed a budget that safeguards important programs that promote food security and the healthy growth and development of children.
Tanika Thompson, co-chair of the Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board and Got Green’s Food Access Organizer, stated, “On behalf of the Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board, I’d want to express my gratitude for this. I realize this was a challenging budget year, but your actions demonstrate a commitment to community input, goals, and values.” After the vote, Mayor Harrell will be presented with the Council’s budget for his signing. The Executive has 10 days from when the budget is sent to his office to either sign it or veto it. If not, it will be implemented immediately.