SEATTLE - The City of Seattle will likely earmark more money toward its homeless emergency.
On Monday, councilmembers on the budget committee unanimously recommended approving its form of the 2016 budget. The vote was 8-0. Councilmember Bruce Harrell was not present.
Within that budget, they recommended adding an additional $2.3 million beyond the $5 million Mayor Ed Murray recommended to address the homelessness emergency in Seattle.
"The enactment of the Council's budget will provide urgently required help and hope, to the City's homeless population," Councilmember Nick Licata said in a statement. "Councilmembers are delivering on a promise to the people, and with an amount of money more commensurate with the crisis. While these emergencyfunds are a good start, I urge the public to keep pressure on this mayor and my colleagues to further invest in our efforts to combat this tragic crisis."
Earlier in the day Councilmember Sawant argued they should add even more; as much as $10 million.
"A state of emergency should never be taken lightly and it should not be an excuse simply to do a press conference," Sawant said Monday.
But other councilmembers expressed concern about how the city would pay for dipping into an emergency subfund.
"We have a policy that requires it to be paid back within the same calendar year," Councilmember Tim Burgess said. "How are we going to do that?"
Sally Bagshaw expressed concern about the "last minute" request as well although Sawant argued she told councilmembers she wanted more in earlier discussions.
"$10 million is great. I'd like to put $100 million into this," Councilmember Sally Baghshaw said. "What I don't want to be doing here is fighting over numbers if we can actually use the $66 million that has now been identified and make sure that were being successful."
Mayor Murray released a statement following the council's vote:
"Most of all, I appreciate the Council's approach to our work to address our current state of emergency on homelessness. We are a generous City, as the Council has shown yet again. But Seattle cannot do it alone. The state and federal governments must step up and do more as well. This issue must once again be a national priority."