Our final report from last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting: The chance to hear more budget-crunch thoughts from a city councilmember, days after the announcement of how the city’s going to save $12 million the rest of this year – and going to have to cut about 5 times that for the next budget cycle. Councilmember Sally Clark was the guest – read on for what she had to say:
First she had words of admiration for those who spoke out before the midyear cuts were settled: “There was a really good turnout at the budget hearings, particularly by Parks advocates, advocating for some programs I didn’t even know we had!”
But there’s only so far you can go with cuts, Clark warned … then it’s time to figure out how to bring in more money, since some of the longrunning sources aren’t yielding as much any more. She expects you’ll see proposals for a higher commercial-parking tax. North Delridge resident Nancy Folsom wondered what the future tax structure might be with so much depending right now on cars, gasoline, parking, driving – Clark answered, “By then we will have come to our senses and totally reformed Washington’s tax structure” – she foresees an income tax for “higher earners” plus a “reasonable mix of property and sales taxes.”
“You’re a dreamer,” Folsom smiled.
Pigeon Point’s Pete Spalding, chairing the meeting, observed that Initiative 1098 is gathering signatures and “we’ll see how far (that) gets.”
Clark said that when the next budget proposal is delivered the mayor on September 27th, it will reflect the results of what he sees in three “pools” of cuts that she says departments have been asked to make: 1 percent-5 percent cut in the “public safety” pool (percentages are from the city’s General Fund); 4%-9.5% from “human services”; other departments such as Parks, Transportation, Neighborhoods, 9.5% to 14.5%.
Where might those cuts come from? She said, “I’d be worried about basic paving, potholes, crosswalk work” so far as transportation goes – the “bread and butter” areas, as she referred to them.
What about a Metropolitan Park District to raise money for the Parks Department, as some have suggested? “I don’t think we’d (do that) this year, but it should be talked about within the next two years,” Clark said.
Many city facilities have capital – as in, building and repairs – needs as well, she reminded, including Seattle Police facilities such as the Harbor Patrol headquarters on Lake Union and the North Precinct.
And that’s far from the only police-related issue she’s concerned about – she mentioned that she and her fellow councilmember are “most concerned about” the midyear cut that will “pause” the hiring of 21 new police officers called for in the city’s Neighborhood Policing Plan, which pre-dates Mayor Mike McGinn. Clark observed that it’s difficult to carry out a plan like that without the right number of officers to handle the workload. But they also would most like to know, she added, more about his longterm thoughts: “He hasn’t come out to the public and said, ‘let’s talk about this,'” regarding the policing plan’s future. “We look forward to having that conversation in the fall.”
One other topic: Spalding asked where the council’s pledged $15 million for the South Park Bridge replacement will come from. Clark’s explanation: “The thing is, we don’t have to write them a check for 15 million dollars …
we’re negotiating, when you get approval for federal money, how much do you need to finish design, how much do you need for (other parts of the project), and when … it’ll be spaced out over a period of time … could come out of bond proceeds if we package that with other transportation needs.” She predicted that a state commitment in “two digits” (millions) will be forthcoming regarding the bridge.
With that, she said she was off to dine at Pegasus Pizza on Alki. (After she left, meeting attendees said, in good humor, that maybe next time she might consider Delridge’s own eateries, like Olympia Pizza and Pasta.)
The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on the third Wednesday of the month, 7 pm, Youngstown Arts Center. It’s preceded TFN by the hourlong Strategic Delridge discussion, 6 pm, same location. The public’s welcome at both.