The Seattle Times
Council budget chair would restore restrictions to JumpStart spending

Seattle City Council budget chair Teresa Mosqueda pushed back on Mayor Bruce Harrell’s proposed JumpStart spending Friday, restoring nearly $20 million to the original spending plan compared to the mayor’s proposal.In the annual balancing package — an initial set of City Council amendments introduced in response to the mayor’s proposed budget — Mosqueda denied proposals from Harrell that would loosen restrictions on how revenue from the JumpStart payroll tax is spent.JumpStart, a payroll tax on top salaries at the city’s biggest employers, passed in 2020 to help fun affordable housing and other budget priorities, and collected $231 million in revenue in its first year, exceeding the city’s $200 million estimate.When crafting the biennial budget last year, the City Council approved $71 million to go toward the city’s General Fund in 2023 and another $84 million in 2024 to offset a projected revenue deficit. In his September proposal, Harrell stayed close to the endorsed budget for 2024, but proposed broader use of the $84 million and suggested cutting some other JumpStart spending to address other spending priorities.Mosqueda’s proposal moves nearly $20 million of JumpStart funding back toward Jumpstart spending plan items, like adding $5 million back to affordable housing.“I think it’s important for consistency and building trust with members of the public, including the payers of JumpStart,” Mosqueda said Thursday, noting that the tax passed in 2020 with the purpose of funding affordable housing, small business, equitable development and Green New Deal initiatives.Mosqueda’s package does not cut a $1.8 million surveillance pilot proposed by Harrell, which would take money from Seattle Police Department positions that were funded but not filled to get additional automatic license plate readers for the department and start a surveillance program using gunshot locating software and video.The gunshot location system would be provided by a company like ShotSpotter, a system that uses sensors to monitor for, and send police to, suspected gunfire. ShotSpotter has been debated in the city for over a decade and is repeatedly rejected due to concerns around privacy, efficacy and over policing.Mosqueda was one of several Council members who expressed concerns about Harrell’s pitch to add the gunshot technology last year, but is leaving it in the budget for now to allow discussion among her colleagues.“My hope is that by the end of this process, we will have seen the trade off having a new pilot without untested and questionable technologies, and we will focus on other public safety priorities,” Mosqueda said, noting that she believes the money would be better spent on community-oriented public safety measures.Another amendment sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold would renew a proviso approved by the Council last year that allows SPD to spend salary savings on certain things like overtime pay, but requires approval before the department could spend the money on unauthorized uses.“When there are salary savings, it gives the Council and the Mayor’s Office and the police department a great opportunity to have a conversation about how to use those salary savings in a way that reflects our shared goals,” Herbold said at a budget committee meeting Friday.A spokesperson for Harrell said Friday that the Mayor’s Office was still working through the amendment package but they appreciate that Mosqueda “maintained many of the mayor’s investments and critical priorities.”Council will continue to amend the budget over the next month and will likely take a final vote on Nov. 21.Members of the public can weigh in on the budget during a committee meeting at 10 a.m. Oct. 27 or at the last public hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. Nov. 13. For more information on the city’s budget, visit … Read More
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