As a candidate, Mike McGinn challenged his opponents to be specific on exactly what fees and taxes they would raise to balance future budgets. Now – as mayor - it’s McGinn’s turn to provide specifics. The mayor isn’t giving any away until he unveils his plans this afternoon. But in recent weeks his budget director said some of the deficit could be reduced by increased fees for city services.
Council member Tom Rasmussen says prioritizing fee increases would hurt the city’s most vulnerable, the poor.
“Well you don’t have a lot of choices. Either you raise fees and taxes or you cut the cost of government. What I’m hoping he has been willing to do is to look at savings wherever he possibly can to avoid significant increases.”
Rasmussen says he’s getting an earful from people worried that programs run by the city’s parks department that serve low-income seniors and families will be cut. He applauded the mayor for working with the city’s labor unions to find nearly 4 million dollars in staff cost-savings.
“Everyone knows we’re all in this together, and that we’re all going to have to sacrifice and take some cuts," said the second-term member.
Not all the city’s unions came to the table, though. City business leaders are hoping more of them will. George Allen is with the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
“In a $67 million dollar budget hole you have to look at all things, including employee costs. It’s not a conversation anyone wants to have of course, but it is a conversation other employers have had in very stark ways here in the city of Seattle, and we think it’s just fair the city have that same conversation," said Allen.
Allen says chamber members looking to create jobs will be undercut if the city makes new fees and taxes a priority.
Mayor McGinn will announce his budget plans at the Rainier Beach Community Center, and later address the city council. Together they’ll negotiate a final budget in November. Public hearings on the budget are scheduled throughout October.