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:
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.
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