Mayor Durkan’s Seattle budget preps for revenue ‘plateau,’ ups transit funding

Sep 24, 2018, 12:11 PM | Updated: 12:54 pm
Jenny Durkan...
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announces her 2019 budget proposal at Fire Station 10. (Seattle Channel)
(Seattle Channel)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is debuting her first city budget Monday, which is expected to reprioritize spending to meet tightening revenues. Residents can expect increased investments in transit, bike lanes, and the fire department.

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“My budget is also rooted in a difficult reality: After years of significant growth, city revenue is reaching a plateau,” Durkan said Monday. “So we have to live within our means. Is our economy still strong? You bet it is — with all the opportunity and challenges that a strong economy brings. But as we project city revenue out into the future, there are clouds on the horizon. We are entering a new era of budget realities – and my plan recognizes that we must reprioritize our budget so we can continue to invest in the things that matter most.”

“This is a budget that invests in building a more vibrant city of the future,” she said. “A city where inside and outside of government, we keep innovating. Where we seize opportunities. Like investing in getting people out of their vehicles and onto transit. That’s what a city of the future looks like.”

The mayor’s office says that after thoroughly going through the budget, it has found $50 million in savings. It plans to reinvest that money in the city. Seattle faces a 10.7 percent decline in revenue over three years starting in 2019, according to the mayor, as the housing market calms. B&O taxes are also expected to level off.

The mayor’s budget will include:

  • $130 million increase in transit funding over 2017’s budget
  • $4 million for new first- and last-mile connections to major transit hubs, such as light rail and water taxis
  • $2.5 million to support the city’s partnership with Sound Transit, including planning for a new light rail station at Graham Street
  • $695 million for public safety, including 40 new police officers and 120 new recruits for the Seattle Fire Department over the next two years
  • $2.6 billion for utility services like power, clean drinking water, garbage, and recycling at City Light and Public Utilities
  • $609 for transit and transportation investments
  • $89.5 million for homelessness across all departments

The mayor says that some of the new fire department funding was found by uncovering efficiencies within the department with the help of Chief Harold Scoggins. She also notes that the $89.5 million for homelessness programs won’t come from any raised taxes.

Under the mayor’s proposed budget, the city will ask King County Metro for 30 percent more bus service. It will also add transit lanes and build more bike lanes. The mayor’s office also notes that Durkan made a commitment to increase homeless shelter capacity by 25 percent, and has to accommodate the tentative contract with Seattle police.

RELATED: City cuts funding for under-performing homeless agencies

“This budget pays for that new contract and a raise for our officers with the Seattle Police Department,” Durkan said. “This budget also invests in effective and innovative responses to our homelessness crisis – and we do it without raising new taxes on residents and businesses of this city.”


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Mayor Durkan’s Seattle budget preps for revenue ‘plateau,’ ups transit funding