Update: Mayor announces his budget; West Seattle details here

September 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 36 Comments

12:13 PM: Click “play” in the video window above, and you’ll see [now-archived] Mayor McGinn presenting his official 2011 Budget Address. We will be adding key points in the text of this story as we get them. Earlier, we got a preview from a source attending one of the meetings at which Seattle Parks employees were briefed – among the proposals, as reported here, Alki Community Center would be closed (though child-care and preschool programs would be proposed to continue through an ongoing partnership). (12:39 pm note – Alki CC was described as “limited-use status” in the mayor’s address)

12:16 PM: The mayor has begun. He mentions the $67 million budget deficit. He says he will talk about not only the decisions made, but how they were made.

12:20 PM: If you want to read ahead – the budget info’s all linked here. We’re just starting to read through it and will add highlights. The mayor’s speech at Rainier Beach Community Center, meantime, is still in the background/context stage. Here’s a section including some specific effects in West Seattle:

• Community Centers: Five community centers – Alki, Ballard, Laurelhurst, Queen Anne, and Green Lake – will have reduced operating hours. The drop-in hours for Alki, Ballard, and Laurelhurst will be reduced from 53 hours per week during the school year and 46 hours per week in the summer to 15-20 hours per week year round.

• Wading Pools: Wading pools at Green Lake, Lincoln, Magnuson, Van Asselt, and Volunteer Park will be open seven days a week in the summer months. Wading pools at South Park, East Queen Anne, Cal Anderson, Dahl, Delridge, Wallingford, Hiawatha, Bitter Lake, EC Hughes, and Sound View Parks will be open three days a week. …

• Seattle Public Library: The library is making 8.5 percent in cuts yet keeping all current hours of operation at 2010 levels by restructuring management of branches. A systemwide closure first instituted in 2009 will continue in 2011.

• Neighborhood Service Centers (NSC): Six of Seattle’s 13 Neighborhood Service Centers (those that serve as payment and information centers) will remain open. Seven centers will close, including the West Seattle payment and information center. The West Seattle site was selected for closure because the building lease expires at the end of 2010; it will merge with the nearby Delridge NSC. The remaining six payment sites are Delridge, University District, Central District, Lake City, Southeast, and Ballard.

12:35 PM: The mayor says that 30 police officers will be redeployed from lower-priority positions to patrol, so there will be more officers on patrol, even though they will not be hiring new officers (as had been proposed in the Neighborhood Policing Plan).

12:40 PM: The mayor describes Alki Community Center’s proposed status as “limited use.” Also, still reviewing the online documents related to the budget, here’s one case of proposed streamlining:

Currently, the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE), the Department of Neighborhoods (DON), Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), and Seattle City Light each play a role in providing tree planting services to Seattle residents. The 2011-2012 Proposed Budget consolidates the OSE and DON portions of the program under the auspices of SPU, improving service delivery and making more effective use of utility funds and the General Fund. This change will provide the urban forestry program with dedicated staffing to better facilitate community engagement with the mission of increasing the city‟s tree canopy cover. Seattle City Light will continue to contribute to the program, as well.

12:45 PM: One more West Seattle detail regarding libraries – While Delridge will remain open 35 hours a week, it is one of the city’s “smaller libraries” that the mayor says will be shifted to “circulating library” status – no librarian on duty. The online overview explains that this means:

These branches
will offer collections, holds-pickup, and computer access. Access to specialized reference or collection
services will be provided on-line or by telephone access to staff at the Central Library. Programming will
be primarily focused on youth and provided by librarians from other locations.

South Park also is proposed for this status change. … While he says there are no “general tax increases,” there are fee increases – he mentions parking-meter rates and the “parking scofflaw” crackdown mentioned in our earlier story (though he says there will be an amnesty period). He also mentions, without elaborating – we’re still reading the documents – increases in various fees.

1:03 PM: The mayor just talked about neighborhood planning beginning with an analysis of “how we spend our money.” Meantime, we are continuing to find more details in the online overview: One big change – if you go downtown or to other neighborhoods where street parking is not free, Sundays now will be paid parking days (11 am-6 pm) as well as Mondays-Saturdays. The meter/pay-station rates will rise by $1.50 downtown and 50 cents (an hour) in other neighborhoods.

1:09 PM: The mayor’s speech is over. One more thing from the online overview – more details on fee increases:

FAS: FAS will increase the cat license fee in 2011. The current fee structure has been in place since 2003. The fee for altered cats will increase from $15 to $20 and the fee for unaltered cats will increase from $20 to $30. FAS will also restructure the driver-for-hire license fee and will levy a $50 charge on taxi drivers who have dual King County/City of Seattle licenses. Previously taxi drivers were not required to pay the City for dual licenses. Drivers licensed only in Seattle, who make up less than 1% of all licensed drivers, will see their fee reduced from $75 to $50.

Library: The Library will increase the daily fine rate on a variety of loaned materials including print materials, DVDs, inter-library loans, and reference materials. The Library will also increase the fees for patrons to print from Library computers. Additionally, the Library will authorize its collection recovery agency to send fine notices to parents of juveniles under the age of 13 who owe fines. Collectively, these measures will generate $650,000 in revenue.

Police: The Seattle Police Department will increase the fee charged to alarm companies who request a police response based on a false alarm. The purpose of this increase is twofold. First, SPD is attempting to reduce the number of false alarms as these responses constitute a large drain on available officers to respond to true emergencies. Given that the current percentage of alarms that are false is 97%, there is much room for improvement. Second, SPD is attempting to recoup a greater percentage of its costs related to responding to false alarms.

Fire: To maintain historical cost recovery rates for billable services, the Seattle Fire Department will implement fee increases of 10% to 15% for permits, conducting certification examinations for fire protection systems and code compliance inspections when multiple re-inspections are required. Additionally, a new $10 reporting fee for processing required fire protection system confidence testing documentation is applied. The increased fees will generate approximately $586,000 for the General Fund and will bring Fire Prevention Division fees to a 75% cost recovery rate, consistent with previous practices.

Seattle Municipal Court: The Seattle Municipal Court will generate additional revenue in 2011 through a variety of changes to its fee structure. First, the Court will continue a number of fee increases it implemented in mid-2010, including an increase from $1 to $3 to handle credit card payments made via the Internet (there is no charge for payments sent in by U.S. mail or made in-person); an increase from $100 to $122 in the administrative fee for deferred findings; and a $10 fee to set up time-payment plans. In 2011, the Court will increase revenue collections by working with its collection agency, Alliance One, to process a large volume of garnishments for people who have past due fines. The Court will also increase the monthly probation fee from $20 to $25. Lastly, the Court will increase revenue collections related to red light camera violations. Collectively, these increases will generate $1.2 million in revenue.

Parks and Recreation: The 2011-2012 Proposed Budget assumes $1 million in new revenue from increases in Parks fees and charges. The updated fees and charges set in this budget are based on Parks‟ new fees and charges policy, which seeks to align fees with the cost of providing the service. Higher percentage costs are charged where benefits of the service accrue primarily to the individual and a lower percentage where society also benefits. In addition to considering the cost of providing a service, Parks analyzed comparable fees charged by other public agencies and recreation service providers. As a result of this analysis, the following fees are increased in the 2011-2012 Proposed Budget: Japanese Garden, Camp Long, Amy Yee Tennis Center, swimming pools, athletic fields, boat ramps, community meeting rooms and gymnasiums, special events – ceremonies, picnics, and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts. A new fee for plan review is also proposed.

Official steps now include presenting the budget to the council this afternoon, and two months of public hearings, meetings, comments, and other forms of review. Again, the West Seattle hearing on the budget is at 5:30 pm October 13th, in the Brockey Center on the southern end of the South Seattle Community College campus (6000 16th SW).

1:55 PM NOTE: We are about to re-add the live video window, since it’s going to show the mayor’s formal budget transmittal to the City Council. Plus – if you’d like to read the detailed city budget overview, here’s the most informative link we’ve found so far (we’re STILL reading through other docs).

3 PM: The mayor’s City Council speech is over. The council’s regular meeting is continuing, so we’ll keep that in the live window for now. The full budget is here. We are working on a shorter bullet-point list too; here’s the overview from our partners at the Seattle Times.

3:26 PM UPDATE: The mayor is now taking questions from the media – and that event is what’s live in the video window atop the story. Also – from that media availability (and our ongoing reading of “the fine print” in the budget) we’ve learned of another major West Seattle effect: The Seattle Police Department Mounted Unit, based in Westcrest Park, is proposed for elimination – its officers would be transferred elsewhere in the department.

4:50 PM UPDATE: All of today’s live events are over – the archived city video atop this story is the mayor’s noon speech. Meantime, the next big discussion of the budget is less than two hours away – the City Neighborhood Council, chaired and co-chaired by West Seattleites (Chas Redmond and Jim Del Ciello, respectively – thanks to Jim for this tip), is discussing the budget during its meeting at 6:30 pm at the West Precinct downtown, with city budget boss Beth Goldberg scheduled to attend. Here’s the draft agenda.

36 Comments

  1. Seems reasonable. I mean ANY cut in any budget or program will anger or upset whoever uses it…but if you HAVE TO cut your budget (can’t raise more money) then these seem like reasonable steps. Nothing crazy dramatic. No shutting down all parks or entire libraries. Just nic’ing at the edges of programs.

    Comment by Alki Area — 12:42 pm September 27, 2010 #

  2. “No librarian on duty”? How does that work? There has to be at least one staff person there on duty when the library is open, right? Maybe I’m misunderstanding what they mean.

    Comment by Ken — 12:49 pm September 27, 2010 #

  3. well, the people sitting at the computers checking books in and out aren’t all librarians, are they?
    but they’re library staff.

    I wonder what ‘no librarian’ means for story times.
    :(

    Comment by sam — 12:57 pm September 27, 2010 #

  4. @Ken, Master’s-degreed librarians (the staff who actually have the job title “Librarian” and who hold an MLS or comparable degree) aren’t the only staff in libraries. It sounds like the city means to keep the doors open at Delridge with paraprofessional or technical staff, and spread the MLS librarians around. Book check-out and return etc. can still happen, but no on-site reference services etc. That’s my guess. Full disclosure, I’m an MLS-degree librarian myself and have worked part-time for SPL (though not currently).

    Comment by Valerie — 12:59 pm September 27, 2010 #

  5. They are proposing cuts at the Neighborhood Center Payment sites (and eliminating the WEST SEATTLE OFFICE), which will most likely result in laying off a few cashier clerks that make around $30,000 a year-but offer direct service to the community- WHY don’t they save those jobs and cut the pay of the Neighborhoods Director, the Neighborhoods Deputy Director, and the Payments Manager -all of whom make over $100,000 a year? Is it because these same 3 individuals were the very ones in charge of making the recommended cuts in the Neighborhoods Department, I think so.

    Comment by Jim — 1:08 pm September 27, 2010 #

  6. This is the document I’ve made it through so far:
    http://mayormcginn.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/2011-2012-Budget-Overview.pdf
    .
    The library summary elaborating on the “no librarian” goes like this:

    The branch libraries are currently overseen by three regional managers and 13 branch manager and assistant manager pairs who each supervise two branches. In 2011, the branch manager classification will be eliminated. Three regional managers will be added, for a total of six regional managers who will be based at a branch and oversee four-to-five branches within a region. Six additional assistant managers will be added – for a total of 19 – to coordinate building operations.

    The Library will also convert eight of its smallest, lower-utilized branches into „circulating‟ libraries and reduce on-site librarian services. These branches – Delridge, Fremont, International District/Chinatown, Madrona-Sally Goldmark, Montlake, New Holly, South Park, and Wallingford – will continue to be open 35 hours per week and serve as a „gateway‟ to the resources of the entire library system. These branches will offer collections, holds-pickup, and computer access. Access to specialized reference or collection services will be provided on-line or by telephone access to staff at the Central Library. Programming will be primarily focused on youth and provided by librarians from other locations.

    Comment by WSB — 1:29 pm September 27, 2010 #

  7. Story times?! Toddlers don’t get themselves to the library…maybe the person that does can read them a story. Not trying to be harsh, just seems like an odd thing to be concerned about in the big picture.

    Comment by GenHillOne — 1:33 pm September 27, 2010 #

  8. Jim-
    Who are the Neighborhoods Director, Deputy Director, and Payments Manager? Are you not happy with their performance or just their salary?

    Comment by Yardvark — 1:43 pm September 27, 2010 #

  9. uh.. I’m not going to cry and pitch a fit about story times, was just wondering / curious. story time is one little piece of a giant complicated city budget.

    and budget cutting aside, FYI story time not all about reading books, we’ve met quite a few people and nice families at story times all around WS, and toddlers like to meet other toddlers and adults, there’s even a word for it, ”socialization’. esp. for little ones who aren’t in pre-school/day-care

    plus, love giving the opportunity to let the toddler hear someone else sing, so they know what singing SHOULD sound like, vs… well, nevermind

    Comment by sam — 1:49 pm September 27, 2010 #

  10. I thought the speech was very thorough and appreciated the work / analysis that went into it.
    thanks WSB! for posting the link and giving the update summaries.

    Comment by sam — 1:54 pm September 27, 2010 #

  11. I note one more Library change in the budget recommendation–library fines and fees to print from library computers will increase to help cover costs, and the collection agency will be authorized to send notices to parents of kids under 13 who owe fines.

    My initial reaction is that it’s reasonable to charge more for fines, which can be avoided by returning materials on time–so, although increasing fines is harder on low-income people, it’s possible for them to avoid the fines and still use the library.

    But I do wonder about charging more for printouts. I know unemployed people depend on using library computers for job searches and applications–I’d like to know what problems this may create.

    And, of course, while preserving open hours (albeit at the currently reduced levels) is better than cutting hours, reducing services during those hours continues an alarming trend.

    Comment by Julie from Friends of SWT Library — 1:55 pm September 27, 2010 #

  12. I also point out that supervising librarians seem to me to be stretched pretty thin, already.

    A library isn’t just a bunch of books on shelves. It’s the people who help us explore the resources and find what we need who make it truly a library.

    Comment by Julie from Friends of SWT Library — 1:59 pm September 27, 2010 #

  13. While we’re on the subject of libraries, anyone is welcome to come to the Friends of Southwest Library meeting in the meeting room at the branch tonight from 6:30 to 7:15 pm. We’ll be preparing books we collected from the Friends of SPL book sale this weekend for our popular book kiosk, and discussing plans. I’m sure the budget will come up, although there may not be a lot of information beyond the mayor’s announcement, since it’s so new.

    Comment by Julie from Friends of SWT Library — 2:05 pm September 27, 2010 #

  14. Let’s start by cutting city jobs paying over $100k a year. Picking on the little guy is pathetic.

    Comment by Jiggers — 2:07 pm September 27, 2010 #

  15. Thanks, Julie. I have added some more paragraphs from the city docs – still continuing to go thru all the fine print I can find – I’m sure there are even more layers to this.

    Comment by WSB — 2:09 pm September 27, 2010 #

  16. WSB–It may be help to mention that tonight the City Neighborhood Council has their monthly meeting (at Seattle Police Department’s West precinct, downtown at 810 Virginia St., Seattle, WA 98101). Beth Goldberg, city budget director, will be there to discuss the budget that Mayor McGinn released today.

    I encourage all of your readers to come and hear more specifics about how the budget proposal will impact us here in West Seattle.

    Jim Del Ciello
    Vice-Chair
    City Neighborhood Council

    Comment by Jim Del Ciello — 2:43 pm September 27, 2010 #

  17. Jiggers: Why pick on the people with $100K jobs? They probably worked hard to get an education to qualify for the higher pay. Does it make sense to punish them and reward the person who didn’t work as hard?

    Comment by marty — 2:52 pm September 27, 2010 #

  18. I made a bet with a friend last year about no more free parking sundays…I’m going to Jack’s for dinner this week!
    .
    Jiggers, nickle and diming the little guy is a sure bet, wow! new season of Dancing with the Stars is on!
    .
    The only thing that makes sense to me so far is false alarm fee increase.

    Comment by Baba — 2:55 pm September 27, 2010 #

  19. Thanks, Jim. I am working on a bullet-point summary pulling out the major stuff (well, it’s ALL major, but I know many people won’t wade thru this whole thing) for a separate story that will conclude with “ways to find out more.” Will send this out on Twitter and FB too – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:20 pm September 27, 2010 #

  20. I bet you could still meet as a story-time group, sam! Though I can relate to the singing part…

    Comment by GenHillOne — 3:28 pm September 27, 2010 #

  21. Also note that we’re continuing to add discoveries to the main story. For example, we just learned by listening to the media Q/A session that the West Seattle-based SPD Mounted Unit is proposed for elimination. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:34 pm September 27, 2010 #

  22. Does this mean all the sports programs for kids at Alki will go away??? SAD for ALKI!!!!!

    Comment by Cami — 3:36 pm September 27, 2010 #

  23. The neighborhood service center in the Junction is pretty well served by public transportation.
    Now, how well does Metro get folks from West Seattle to wherever the Delridge Service Center is?
    Probably there are better connections to downtown than Delridge.

    Comment by old timer — 3:37 pm September 27, 2010 #

  24. @marty, you are correct. If we start laying off 100+K a year gov. employees in this state now, then who is going to vote for Patty in 5 weeks?

    Comment by Baba — 4:09 pm September 27, 2010 #

  25. I was just going to say that there are 2 service centers over here, one on Delridge, which is right infront of a bus stop, and the one in the Alaska Junction. I thought it was a bit odd that they were in relatively close proximity to each other. I have used both and they are nice to have overhere.

    Comment by coffee — 4:24 pm September 27, 2010 #

  26. For anyone who wants to read even more in-depth on Parks effects, they have their own version of a document linked from their site:
    http://www.seattle.gov/parks/publications/parks_proposed_budget_2011.pdf

    Comment by WSB — 4:41 pm September 27, 2010 #

  27. Mea culpa–the Friends of Southwest Library meeting is 6 to 7:30, not 6:30 to 7:15. But come when you can.

    Comment by Julie from Friends of SWT Library — 5:06 pm September 27, 2010 #

  28. I know this is a trivial thing to be bummed about, but I am disappointed about the Mounted Police. Did a field trip over there a couple of years back and thought it was just the coolest thing. Of course, I imagine that bikes are way cheaper than horses, and I know times are tight.

    Comment by JenS — 5:15 pm September 27, 2010 #

  29. the mayor didnt mention it in his budget speech,was only at question time,but he is getting rid of the seattle police horse mounted patrol unit,which will be a sad day not to see them walking the beat around the streets of seattle and here in west seattle and down at alki..besides the job they do and their value as a PR tool they are also an extremely positive tourist attraction

    Comment by squizzy — 5:33 pm September 27, 2010 #

  30. does anyone know what they will do with those horses,and im sure the officers will go back into cars not bicycles,and im sure it costs just as much to maintain a car as it does a horse,and who can walk up to a car and feed it carrots and pat it and the officers on the horses are always so friendly and dont we know that the police need all the positive PR they can get of late

    Comment by squizzy — 6:02 pm September 27, 2010 #

  31. Squizzy, that was in our story. We heard it during the questions, which was before we’d gotten into the budget document, which wasn’t made available until after 2 pm. still reading more of it, in fact. We will have a separate followup on this – TR

    Comment by WSB — 6:06 pm September 27, 2010 #

  32. Just a note about the lack of librarians in branches: Storytimes are actually a valuable learning experience and help children build early literacy skills so they are ready to read when they start school. Furthermore,children’s librarians are trained in providing story times so it is more than just reading a story(though this is valuable)!

    Comment by librarymama — 6:41 pm September 27, 2010 #

  33. Maybe the horses can “man” the libraries!

    Comment by EyeLiveInWestSeattle — 10:48 pm September 27, 2010 #

  34. I haven’t been terribly happy with McGinn so far, but this plan seems very sensible. This is the kind of analysis and restructuring that should continue in any economy. I’m especially pleased with his plan to increase the tree canopy. Our former mayor’s plan to do so was nothing but PR, so I hope McGinn is serious about this.

    Comment by anonyme — 7:10 am September 28, 2010 #

  35. Those cop horses are really good at taking monster craps in the middle of the sidewalk.

    Comment by austin — 8:35 am September 28, 2010 #

  36. I think the library printing fees will be set at the same price as black and white photocopy fees.

    Most of the branch library story times are done by rotating children’s librarians, not based at the same library that the story time is at.

    (Translation of what the following statement means)

    “Programming will be primarily focused on youth and provided by librarians from other locations.”

    Comment by gina — 10:26 am September 28, 2010 #

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