The City of Seattle is short on money, and out of options to avoid painful cuts. With a $67 million shortfall predicted for next year, today Mayor McGinn released his plans to balance the budget through spending cuts and increased fees.
The good news for the Central District is that it appears we’ve been spared some of the biggest cuts that will be hitting other parts of the city. Here’s what we’ve found after reading through hundreds of pages of budget documents:
- Parks – the wading pools at Peppi’s Playground and Powell Barnett Park will remain closed in 2011, and there are no plans to convert them to spray parks
- Playfields – Less painting and less ballfield maintenance
- Pool – No cuts at Medgar Evers pool
- Community Centers – Both the Yesler and Garfield community centers will remain open at current operating hours, while community centers in other parts of the city will be closing.
- Neighborhood Service Center – Our city office at 23rd & Jackson will remain open for paying bills and accessing other city services. But others are closing, including the one on Capitol Hill, which will spread the staff at our service center across a wider geographic area.
- Crime Prevention Coordinators – 3 of the 7 current citywide positions will be cut. We’re already sharing 3 coordinators from neighboring areas, so it’s not clear how this will affect us
- Police – Although the city will not hire the planned 64 new officers this year, reassignments and closure of the mounted patrol will provide 2 new patrol officers and one new sergeant for the East Precinct. That’s a budget increase of $689,873 vs. 2010.
- Libraries – All neighborhood libraries will stay open at current operating hours. However, the Sally Goldmark branch in Madrona will have less on-site library services, turning it into a “circulating” library focused on youth and using librarian services from other facilities.
- Fire – No reductions in neighborhood firefighting staff, though some savings will be achieved by modifying training
- Streets – Less street repair, slower pothole fixes, and less maintenance of vegetation
The city is looking for some new revenue from areas like parking fees. In addition to expanded evening and Sunday paid parking hours, the city will get aggressive on parking scofflaws, putting a boot on any vehicle with 4 or more unpaid tickets.
The next step is for the city council to review and finalize the budget, which could result in significant changes from what the mayor has proposed. Stay tuned…