Budget not sustainable

Editorial 9/29

On Monday, Mayor Mike McGinn released his 2011-2012 budget, which the accompanying press release described as "sustainable," the catchphrase of his administration. However, his proposal seems anything but for his constituents.
Sure to draw the ire of those living and working in Seattle, McGinn proposes to increase Seattle City Light rates by 4.3 percent this coming year and another 4.2 percent the following year. Rate increases for solid waste (7.5 percent), drainage (12.8 percent) and water (3.5 percent) also are mentioned.
The bike-friendly mayor also suggests that that parking rates increase at the city's meters, as well as extend that metered parking to Sundays and until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The parks department would get 105 of the 294 total job cuts proposed. It would also close seven of its wading pools and reduce hours at numerous others, and reduce hours at five community centers across the city. And park-usage fees would increase, as well.
The local libraries would suffer the loss of librarians at eight branches, which would become "circulating branches" that would share staffing. These branches would stay open for 35 hours each week with no librarian on duty.
In addition, seven of the city's 13 Neighborhood Service Centers - which serve as Little City Halls, where people can inquire about city services and programs, pay utility bills and traffic tickets and apply for passports - would close.
Also, the police department won't be able to hire any more officers, but it would reassign 30 officers to patrol.
McGinn said during the press conference on his proposed budget that he based his budget on "value decisions," but whose values is he taking into account? Seattleites value their parks and library system (both of which had already been cut drastically over the last two years), as well as their safety.
Yes, cuts need to be made to get the city through the current economic crisis, but McGinn could have made his proposed budget more palatable by, for starters, postponing yet again the $20 million rebuild of the aging Rainier Beach Community Center so that other services and departments may share some of that funding.
Otherwise, if McGinn's goal of sustainability means that the people of Seattle should just stay holed up at home in the dark until the effects of the recession blow over, then he may just achieve it.
(The Seattle City Council will hold three public hearings on the mayor's proposed 2011 budget: Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the Northgate Community Center gym, 1510 Fifth Ave. N.E.; on Oct. 13, at South Seattle Community College's Brockey Center, 6000 16th Ave. S.W.; and on Oct. 26, at Seattle City Hall, in the Council Chambers, 600 Fourth Ave., second floor. All public hearings will begin at 5:30 p.m.; a sign-up sheet to testify will be available at 5 p.m.
The Seattle City Council must pass a balanced 2011 budget by Dec. 2.)[[In-content Ad]]