• Seattle council restores mayor's budget, will consider head tax

    By: Essex Porter


    SEATTLE - This is about finding more money to address the homelessness crisis -- especially after City Council members rejected an employee head tax on Seattle's largest businesses.

    Last week, a majority of council members voted to cut $1 million, or 17 percent, of the office budget for incoming Mayor Jenny Durkan.

    Today, they gave most of it back.

    “None of us want to undermine or cut at the knees the incoming mayor,” said Councilwoman Kirsten Harris-Talley, who last week led the effort to cut the mayor’s budget.

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    Harris-Talley said she just wanted to bolster the understaffed Human Services Department which is the lead department for managing programs for the homeless.

    "To see a department with as much overview of such a large budget as HSD find themselves with a black woman at the helm, have an increase of threefold in her budget to have her staffing levels static during that time does not put us in a good position as a city, to actually have the correct amount of oversight that we need in that department,” said Harris-Talley

    Now, the money for programs to help the homeless will come funds meant to help better manage the city's building boom. Money to renovate offices for the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections will be redirected to the Department of Human Services.

    Councilman Rob Johnson noted that the city still needs to respond to the building boom. “I hope that my colleagues that are proposing these cuts will also be helpful in identifying for us later on the opportunities for them to make sure that we're delivering the most efficient system possible," he said.

    The council also cut $250,000 to replace the carpet on the second floor of City Hall, where its chambers and offices are located.

    After passing the budget, council members agreed to a resolution to study the employee head tax. They will form a head tax committee next month, and plan to make a decision in March. 

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