Council Oks $3.7 Billion Budget
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
With relatively minor tweaking, the Seattle City Council yesterday approved Mayor Norm Rice's $3.7 billion biennial budget and confirmed his picks to run four departments, three of them newly created.
As they signaled in a preliminary vote last week, council members trimmed $2.5 million from Rice's proposed $9 million Families & Jobs Opportunity Fund - the mayor's response to impending federal welfare cuts.
The vote was 7-1, with Councilwoman Jane Noland the sole dissenter, as she was in last week's vote. She renewed her criticism of Rice's welfare-response plan, which she derided for "throwing dollars at an issue."
Later, Rice and council President Jan Drago said they viewed Noland's remarks more as political posturing than as fair criticism.
In approving the budget, the council:
-- Restored $1.5 million to a fund to replace housing demolished because of downtown development.
-- Created a $500,000 survival-services fund to cope with the consequences of welfare reform and to monitor the use of the existing $65-million human-services budget.
-- Added three police-officer positions (18 positions were cut in last spring's budget deliberations) focused on community policing, and authorized possibly adding another five patrol officers next summer.
-- Reduced councilmanic debt by $2.5 million, bringing the total debt down to $9.5 million.
-- Ponied up $300,000 for the historic Paramount Theatre to help cover debt payments from its $37 million restoration. In return, the city can use theater facilities without charge for specified periods, and obtain free admission for needy school children for certain events.
-- Approved Rice's reorganization moves, including the creation of four agencies: the Executive Services Department; Seattle Public Utilities; the office for Civil Rights; and the Seattle Transportation Department, with the highest level of funding the city has ever committed ($14 million) to fix roads and potholes and meet other infrastructure needs.
The budget "will be remembered for some time as one in which together the mayor and the council tackled the effect of federal cuts head-on while maintaining the city's compassion to its citizens," said budget chair Martha Choe.
Also yesterday, the council confirmed Rice nominees:
-- Dwight Dively, director of the city's Finance Department, to run the Executive Services Department (ESD), merging functions of the Finance, Administrative Services and Personnel departments. ESD next year has a budget of roughly $109 million and a staff of about 820. Dively's salary will range between $95,000 and $100,000.
-- Diana Gale, superintendent of the city's Water Department, to run the Seattle Public Utilities Department (SPU), merging functions of the water, drainage and solid waste utility departments. SPU next year has a budget of roughly $468 million and a staff of about 1,150. Gale's salary will range between $100,000 and $105,000.
-- Daryl Grigsby, who until earlier this year headed King County's water-pollution control department, to run the Seattle Transportation Department (STD), until now a division of the Seattle Engineering Department. STD next year has a budget of roughly $86 million and a staff of about 520. Grigsby's salary will be about $90,000.
-- Kenneth Bounds, who has served as acting Parks Department superintendent since Holly Miller quit last spring, to officially replace her. That department next year has a budget of roughly $68 million and a staff of about 1,140. Bounds' salary will be about $90,000.
Rice also has nominated Germaine Covington, who currently heads the city's Human Rights Department, to run the new Office for Civil Rights, integrating her old agency and the city's Office for Women's Rights. Covington is expected to be confirmed by the council next week.
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