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City Council responds after Seattle mayor vetoes COVID relief bill

(Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images for Rock'n'Roll Marathon )

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan vetoed the city council’s $86 million COVID Relief bill that would have used the city’s emergency funds to help families and small businesses.

“The Mayor’s veto will flatline Seattle’s recovery,” Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) said in a news release on Saturday.

The council unanimously passed the JumpStart COVID Relief bill on July 20, so Durkan’s veto could be overridden. Because of the veto, the council must wait at least five days to take any action. Mosqueda, sponsor of the legislation, said she plans to bring the bill for another vote in the coming weeks.

According to the city council, the bill would use the $86 million to provide small business grants for child care, expand food vouchers, help with rent and shelter space, and support immigrants and refugees. The plan would replenish the emergency fund in 2021.

Mayor Durkan said in a letter to the city clerk that it’s irresponsible to drain the entirety of the rainy day and emergency funds in the first few months of what’s likely a multi-year crisis.

“If 2020 is any indication, no one can responsibly project that Seattle will not have additional emergencies this year and next,” Durkan said. “Already this year, in addition to the health and economic crisis, we have seen a significant unplanned infrastructure emergency with the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.”

The mayor cautioned that the council’s hypothetical plan to use the new payroll tax to restore some of the emergency and rainy day funds leaves the city open to risk as those funds aren’t potentially collected until 2022. It’s also unclear exactly how much revenue will be collected through the tax and whether it’ll cover a projected budget shortfall of $300 million.

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