Speakers: District 5 City Councilmember Debora Juarez, Seattle City Budget Director Ben Noble, Seattle City
Council Staff Director Kirstan Arestad
September 26, 2018 6:30 – 8:30 PM Bitter Lake Community Center 13035 Linden Ave. N., Seattle
Introductory Comments
John Lombard convened the meeting on behalf of the D5 Network, welcoming all and noting that Mayor Durkan
submitted her proposed budget this week. The purpose of the meeting tonight was to inform citizens about the
budget process and how citizens can be involved. John also explained that theD5 Network is an independent
citizens’ group and noted that the D5 mission and goals were listed at the bottom of the agenda handed out.
John thanked the Bitter Lake Community Center and tonight’s speakers and acknowledged the members of
Councilmember Juarez’s staff who were present, who each introduced themselves. He also thanked Safeway for
donating the food and acknowledged that translators for Spanish and Amharic were present. Finally, he
thanked the D5 Coordinating Committee members present and asked them to stand.
John noted that, at Councilmember Juarez’s request, written questions were submitted ahead in order to focus
on the subjects and maintain a civil tone. He said there would also be opportunities for clarifying questions from
the floor and for interacting with Councilmember Juarez or her staff after the meeting. John said that the initial
written question to be presented were submitted ahead of time from various community organizations and
focused on the areas of homelessness, the police, sidewalks, parks and open space, and immigrants.
Councilmember Juarez (referred to below as CJ) asked to say a few comments and thanked the Dept. of
Neighborhoods (referred to below as DON) in paying the fee for translators. She noted that the meeting tonight
was a first for speakers Noble and Arestad to come out to a community group and explain how the budget
works. She also noted the recent successes District Five has had in securing its budget requests. The current
budget submitted by the mayor is 678 pages and CJ acknowledged how hard speakers Noble and Arestad work
at City Hall and publicly thanked them [applause]. The budget will be voted on November 19 by the Council.
Seattle City Budget Director Ben Noble then spoke and noted he works for all of us in Seattle. He reminded the
audience that the budget process is biennial in that it covers a two-year period. Therefore, in autumn 2019,
there will be another review for the 2019-20 plan. He also said the budget is required to be balanced against
forecast revenue. However, forecasting revenue is an uncertain process. In April, the City starts to build the
budget with a first step of revenue forecast and then this forecast is revised in August and will be reviewed one
more time in the Fall before the budget is approved. The current budget proposal totals $5.9 billion, with $2.6
billion designated for utilities. Utility services are self-funded in that revenue taken in by City Light, for example,
can only be used for City Light activities. The portion of the budget that has the most flexibility is the General
Fund and therefore it receives the most attention. The General Fund receives revenue from sales taxes, B & O
(business and occupation) taxes, utility taxes, and property taxes. All these sources are very sensitive to changes
in the economy. The City of Seattle’s economy has been growing but there is an expectation that the rate of
growth will be slowing down. Furthermore, the B & O and sales taxes derive much revenue from construction –
construction alone accounts for about 25% of sales tax- and the forecast is that construction will slow down.
Mr. Noble discussed the decision-making process on the Mayor’s side (executive side). In spring, he gets
feedback from city departments about their needs and opportunities to shift funding. There is then an initial
reaction from the Mayor. This year, Mayor Durkan was particularly interested in making savings where possible.
More action happens in July with the Mayor as more revenue forecasts come in. DON representatives get
feedback from citizens, as does the Mayor and her staff and she also consults with City Council members as well.
The budget is then presented the last Monday of September.
The next speaker was Kirstan Arestad, the City Council Staff Director, who leads a group of analysts on behalf of
all nine members of the City Council. Ms. Arestad cited the recent Seattle Center Arena negotiations as a good
example of civic engagement and she said that working with CJ and her staff has been a pleasure because they
are so knowledgeable. She also described that much activity happens in the two months before the final budget
is okayed in the Fall. The Mayor can sign or veto the budget approved by the Council, but there is no line item
veto.
How do individuals influence the budget process? Ms. Arestad provided a handout about it to John Lombard
(which he will forward electronically to the D5 e-mail list) and there were several copies available. She noted
that CJ and her staff are the first place to go to in District 5 to provide input. More community meetings will be
happening this Fall. Ms. Arestad affirmed that CJ has been 97% successful in her budget asks, especially
attributable to the excellent information about community preferences CJ was able to present.
CJ asked Ms. Arestad to talk about the “healthy tension” between the Council and the Mayor with respect to
building the budget.
Ms. Arestad explained that there are questions to reconcile and her staff work to present relevant data. Mr.
Noble noted that, as various activities are advocated for, items in budget might get moved around because
“there is never enough money”. Trade-offs are necessary.
The meeting then moved to clarifying questions from the audience.
-Is there an audit process?
Ms. Arestad answered that there is no formal audit process but the Council can request specific audits via the
City Auditor’s office. Mr. Noble noted that the State of Wa. Auditor does a technical audit of the City budget.
Standards are also monitored for compliance in terms of service contracts.
-new tax revenues?
An Air B&B tax that the State of Wa. has authorized and the City Council passed will provide new revenues, but
slow growth is forecast.
-what period of time is the best for people to provide input by contacting their representatives?
Public hearings coming up will occur Oct 4 at 5:30 and Oct 23 at 5:30. Ms. Arestad said that the period before
the “Green Sheet” period of Oct 30-Nov 2 is the best time to provide input.
Before answering the questions submitted by community organizations, CJ wanted to acknowledge other City
workers present from Human Services, Homelessness programs, SDOT, the North Precinct Police Dept
[applause], and the Parks Dept.
She reminded the audience that she chairs the Civic Development, Public Assets & Native Communities
Committee. She attended a meeting today with Mr. Noble and Ms. Arestad and other City Council members to
review input from six City offices that interact with the budget. She noted some highlights of the budget with
respect to District 5: further $3 million for a north end community center toward the goal of $16.5 millioin (this
is in addition to the money secured last year and CJ thanked Mayor Durkan for her support toward this effort);
North Seattle College has money in the budget proposed now for a feasibility study of an apprenticeship
program; in conjunction with the Promise Program, Ingraham H.S. should get funding.
CJ noted the importance of the deal just agreed to for Key Arena with OVG (Oak View Group). OVG has agreed
to help with affordable housing, the arts, youth care in the City, including two programs in District 5. There is a
plan to add North end representatives to the Giving Council. CJ then discussed Northgate development- 1200
units are planned with an additional 1200 at the Metro site and potentially another 300 on the North Seattle
College campus.
The funding for the Light Rail station at 130th is looking good and there is a design study now with a goal of
opening in 2024 that seems feasible [applause]. CJ thanked the Broadview, Haller Lake, and Bitter Lake
communities for helping push that project to seven years ahead of its earlier schedule.
Answers to questions submitted from community organizations
What are the planned budgetary increases to deal with D- 5 issues around homelessness, and how are they to be
spent on:
a. People needing homes, especially families;
b. People in danger of losing their homes;
c. Addiction and mental illness resulting in homelessness; and
d. Chronic camping, trash, damage, and hygiene/health problems in parks and open spaces?
CJ noted the $89 million projected in Mayor Durkan’s budget to deal with homelessness. Thirty new people will
be added to the navigation teams. The lease for the Aurora-Licton Village Homeless Encampment will not be
renewed [applause]. CJ wanted to strongly affirm that no one ever tells the Seattle Police Dept not to enforce
laws. A pie chart was shown on the screen about how money will be spent on homelessness issues: 48% to
emergency shelter, 28% to housing, 8% to prevention, 9% to operations, 7% to service access.
Ben Noble also talked about items in the budget to deal with homelessness and noted we are seeing more
success and there is a 25% increase projected in spending for cleanup. Kirsten Arestad added that there is much
need for money in Human Services, in addition to dealing with homelessness.
Seattle Police are near a major staffing and recruitment crisis. Our community is seeing increased incidence of
slow or no response to calls, increased prostitution on Aurora, and more nearby drug activity. We see the need
for funding that will ensure a better police presence and also to quickly continue with updated planning for the
halted North Precinct–potentially dividing the North Precinct in two, or adding multiple mini-precincts. What can
our community do to help in seeing a budget that will turn the tide on these public safety issues for our
neighborhood and for Seattle in general?
The staffing and recruitment crisis was noted and the need for funding to solve the issue of the North Precinct
site. CJ said these have been important issues since she was elected. There are budget projections for 12 new
Community Service Officers and 40 new police officers. CJ still supports the construction of a new North
Precinct facility though at lower cost than had been proposed earlier. She also noted the expansion of the LEAD
program (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion). She receives many emails daily about public safety and CJ noted
the importance of new leadership under Police Chief Carmen Best.
Mr. Noble noted the importance of the new contract reached with the police, including retroactive pay and that
this should help with recruitment and retention. Data for the Patrol Budget in the North Precinct for 2018,
2019, 2020 was shown on the screen.
80% of pedestrian crashes happen on arterial streets. 1.4 Miles of Aurora Ave. and 1.3 miles of Greenwood Ave.
lack sidewalks on one or both sides. These are 2 of the busiest principal arterials and major transit routes in north
Seattle. Over the last 10 years, just in that area lacking sidewalks, Aurora has averaged 130 crashes, 79 injuries,
and 7 people walking and biking hit each year. What provisions are being made in the budget to add sidewalks
on major arterial streets?
A map was shown of the new sidewalks secured or proposed for District 5, with particular note to the Licton Greenwood
Greenways. CJ reviewed the funds she had already secured for sidewalks in the North end. CJ or
her staff are meeting with SDOT weekly and asking why more is not being done in the district. CJ noted the role
Lee Bruch has played and that he is now on the School Safety Committee.
How will you allocate funding to invest in North Seattle grass root groups and Organizations to serve North
Seattle Immigrant and Refugee needs on both sides of the freeway?
CJ discussed programs proposed in the budget from various City departments. CJ noted the increased funding
she was able to secure last year for many of the programs affecting this population. Mr. Noble cited the “Ready
to Work” program and acknowledged CJ’s work in securing the funding for it.
What are the city’s plans and budgets to acquire land for green space in a densifying city?
CJ is currently continuing to advocate for a lid on the Bitter Lake reservoir. She noted the important role Janine
Blaeloch (also of D5 Coordinating Committee) played in the Your Voice Your Choice process and the high rate of
participation by residents of District 5 for projects and green spaces. [applause]
CJ talked about the sweetened beverage tax and the fact it has brought in more revenue than originally
projected and it looks like this source of revenue will continue, based on research from other cities. CJ said this
money will provide revenue for food banks and other programs. She also noted that the Tony Lee House will
open next week (https://lihi.org/the-tony-lee-apartments-lake-city-family-housing/)
Questions from audience submitted on cards at the meeting
(1) Without the neighborhood council system, how will neighbors be included in the process of budget building?
Ms. Arestad said that residents can reach out to their Council representative and that DON can be
communicated with. CJ also pointed out her availability through her Friday open houses at her North Seattle
College office. John Lombard also reminded the audience that the D5 group was formed in part to fill the
vacuum of losing the City connection to District Councils. [applause]
(2) What city-wide programs will be discontinued in budget? Ms. Arestad said that is part of process to be
worked out and Mr. Noble said that Mayor Durkan is looking at where reductions can be secured, such as
reducing the City vehicle fleet by ten percent.
(3) What funding will occur to counter the growing prostitution issue along Aurora Avenue? CJ noted the
services available to help women get out of sex trafficking and that faster access to treatment should be
available. Elizabeth Dahl of Aurora Commons also spoke from the audience when invited and talked about
money for the expansion of the medical clinic and hiring more community advocates, hope for expansion of
services for drop-ins [applause]
5
(4) Will there be funding to complete the walking path around Haller Lake? The three speakers did not know but
said they would look into it and the audience member was invited to connect with CJ’s staff. SDOT rep. also said
options are being looked at.
(5) Public health hazards in parks (e.g., needles, human waste from encampments)– funding to counter this?
Ms. Arestad and CJ responded that this is part of the budget devoted to homelessness issue.
(6) Purchase of NE 130th St beach property? Mr. Noble said that the property is still tied up in litigation, but the
City does have a goal to eventually acquire it.
(7) Safe injection sites in the Mayor’s budget and could not that money be redirected to mental health services?
[applause]. Yes, there is $1.3 mill. for “community health engagement locations” (i.e, safe injection sites) but
the mayor envisions it as a one-time expenditure. Mr. Noble noted that Public Health in general is primarily a
County responsibility. There are also significant legal challenges due to federal law aspects. The Council has
created a select committee on homelessness to deal with related issues.
(8) Despite the new officers called for in the budget, SPD will still be understaffed. How will the North Precinct
get a fair share? [applause]. CJ discussed the need to improve the facility and the difficulty due to geography
given the size and configuration of the North Precinct. [applause].
Wrap-up
The audience applauded for the whole panel. John Lombard discussed how to follow up as a community,
attending hearings, e-mailing the Council. CJ said she or her staff can help North enders who want to come
down and provide input to budget hearings since she knows it is often difficult to get there. She hopes there will
be potential to have some future hearings at North Seattle College. CJ also noted that she felt bad that people
who spoke at previous Council meetings regarding the North Precinct facility were not always well-treated.
The meeting was then ended with thanks to the audience and all who participated.
Notes taken by Kathleen Braden, D5 Coordinating Committee and Secretary of Licton Springs Community
Council.