SEATTLE — Mayor Mike McGinn on Monday presented his 2014 budget to the City Council, and it includes a lot of new spending.
McGinn says times are better now, and Seattle can afford to restore many of the cuts that have taken place in the past few years.
The favorable economy has generated more sales tax and other revenue, allowing the city’s General Fund budget to surpass $1 billion for the first time. That’s a 7% increase over this year.
McGinn has big plans for that new money, including road repairs ($37 million), new transit routes ($3.2 million), human services ($5.6 million), and public safety, including more cops. That’s something everyone seems to want.
“The budget I’m proposing today adds 15 more (police officers). That’s 42 more than officers than were authorized in 2012,” McGinn said. “I understand that this is the highest authorized staffing level ever for our SPD.”
In a show of unity with City Council members that he is often at odds with, the mayor endorsed their plan for funding a program to bring universal preschool to all Seattle children.
Monday’s speech wasn’t just a long list of new spending. The mayor also took a significant amount of time talking about his values and the fact that he’s focused on neighborhoods as much as downtown.
“While everyone cares about this city,” McGinn said, “we need to be careful that those with the money, the power, and influence don’t have the ability to put their thumbs on the scale for their priorities.”
City Council reaction was muted. Tim Burgess, chairman of the council’s Budget Committee, cautioned about the new spending.
“There’s clearly no doubt that he wants to open the checkbook and open it really wide,” Burgess said.
Burgess, a former mayoral candidate who now supports McGinn’s opponent, state Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, in the November election, said the council will take a hard look at the mayor’s plans before it gives it the final approval.
“I think some of the programs, the crime prevention programs that he’s said he wants to expand, we don’t yet know if those programs are working or if they are effective,” Burgess said.