Seattle council OKs reworked injection sites, higher car tab fee on first day of budget votes

Nov 19, 2020, 8:10 AM | Updated: 10:53 am
Seattle council budget...
Seattle City Hall in downtown Seattle. (Dyer Oxley, KIRO Radio)
(Dyer Oxley, KIRO Radio)

Seattle councilmembers began the processing of approving amendments to the city’s 2021 budget Wednesday, voting on several proposals with wide-ranging implications.

Seattle council, mayor ‘turn corner,’ find common ground on SPD budget

Among the more controversial measures include one that would raise a city-level car tab fee from $20 to $40. Initially, the hope had been to earmark the funds from that increased fee to address underfunded bridge maintenance.

A recent report published by the city auditor estimates that Seattle should be spending between $34 million and $102 million annually to meet engineering standards for bridge maintenance. Currently, the city spends roughly $10 million to that effect. By raising a vehicle licensing fee from $20 to $40, councilmembers estimate the city could raise an additional $3.6 million.

Despite supporting the fee itself, Council President Lorena Gonzalez brought up concerns Wednesday over the lack of a stakeholder process in determining how those funds should be spent. Ultimately, the council agreed to include the car tab fee increase in its 2021 budget, but set aside the issue of how to spend it for future discussion.

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant voiced her own disapproval for the measure, labeling it “one of the most deeply regressive taxes” the city could pass for low-income and working class residents. Sawant instead proposed the city raise that money by increasing rates for the JumpStart big business tax passed earlier in 2020. That proposal was voted down 8-1.

Also discussed and voted on in the council’s budget committee Wednesday was a reworked version of a plan for safe injection sites. Early plans for a safe injection site in Seattle would have had trained medical professionals at a physical location providing sterile tools for drug use, while standing ready to administer overdose-reversing drugs should the need arise.

Legal troubles scuttled those plans, leading to a retooled proposal that would instead train staff members at existing low barrier emergency shelters to respond to and reverse overdoses. Advocates for the plan note that high numbers of overdoses are already occurring at those shelters, and that training existing staff to step in and provide aid could save lives.

Homeless response in first week of Seattle’s 2021 budget work 

Councilmember Alex Pedersen opposed the proposal Wednesday, questioning its ability to get drug users into treatment.

“People will not receive treatment if they die,” countered Councilmember Lisa Herbold.

The council voted to move the proposal forward, with Pedersen operating as the lone “no” vote.

Votes from councilmembers moved these and several other amendments out of the budget committee on Wednesday. A second committee session on Thursday will decide the fate of the remaining amendments. A full council vote on Nov. 23 will then finalize the 2021 budget and send it to the mayor’s office for approval.

Local News

bellevue prostitution, home invasions, licton springs, fbi...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

US Marshal Fugitive Task Force shoot suspect in Des Moines

A wanted fugitive was shot by an officer near a Safeway grocery store on Pacific Highway South in Des Moines.
1 day ago
Nicole Jennings

Washington health leaders say not enough people getting vaccine as cases plateau

While hundreds of thousands more people will soon be able to get the vaccine in Washington, it is still not enough to get the state to herd immunity.
1 day ago
Olympia shooting...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Washington State Patrol investigates shooting in Olympia near capitol

Washington State Patrol is investigating after a shooting in Olympia at the north end of Capitol Lake on Deschutes Parkway on Wednesday. 
1 day ago
Marginal Way...
Kathryn Altena

South Park Bridge, East Marginal Way South reopen after storm damage

It's been more than two days, but both the South Park Bridge and East Marginal Way South are back open after suffering damage from the weekend's storm. 
1 day ago
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

FAA flags potential safety problems for Boeing’s 767 and 757

Boeing hit yet another stumbling block this week, with the Federal Aviation Administration flagging potential safety problems with two of its planes.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

First Seattle homeless residents moving in to King County’s hotel

A hotel that's part of King County's "Health Through Housing" initiative in North Seattle will welcome its first residents this week. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Seattle council OKs reworked injection sites, higher car tab fee on first day of budget votes