Seattle Mayor Ed Murray presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 on Monday, September 22. The budget proposes major organizational changes in education and public safety and refocuses efforts on homelessness.
Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:
- Moving City departments to a standard accounting system.
- Conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures.
- Launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending.
- Developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability.
- Launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability.
- Establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.
“We will use data, not tradition, to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.
The mayor also said he tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.
“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets, and very likely there are more,” Murray said. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”
Other initiatives in mayor’s proposed budget include:
- A new Office of Labor Standards to implement Seattle’s landmark $15-per-hour minimum wage law.
- A new investment in local careers as the City invests in its own infrastructure.
- A new, Cabinet-level Department of Early Learning and Education.
- The new ‘Ready for Work’ program in the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.
- A new environmental equity initiative in the Office of Sustainability & Environment.
The City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2.