SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council voted to approve the 2023-2024 budget, a whopping $7.4 billion dollars. The vote was six to three.
The multi-billion dollar budget covers a wide range of issues, from affordable housing to public safety. A major driver for the council is the economic uncertainty expected over the next two years and high inflation.
Here's what you should know:
Half a billion dollars over the next two years will be put toward affordable housing. It is the largest investment in housing services Seattle has ever seen.
"That's first-time homeownership opportunities, that's funding to support folks staying stably housed and the vast majority of funding going into building more affordable units," said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
The council's budget also includes $4 million dollars for youth mental health with a quarter of that going directly to Ingraham High School, after a student was killed in a shooting early this month.
"This conversation came together with youth representatives at the table. They asked for greater flexibility so they could be part of a discussion about how to deploy those dollars," said Mosqueda.
The students asked for funding for providers within the school and community-led mental health programming. Junior, Natalya McConnell helped organize the student-led protest at city hall two weeks ago.
"It just shows that movements and organizing of students, if we stand united together from the north end of Seattle to the south end of Seattle, we can win big changes for the entire Seattle schools," McConnell said.
Public safety is a major concern of Seattle residents and a point of contention for Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Sara Nelson who voted no on the budget.
"I believe that we should have allowed for the flexibility of SPD to use its salary savings to meet emergent needs and eliminating 80 permanent positions is unnecessary," said Nelson.
The 80 police positions were unfilled. SPD has room to hire more than 120 positions. In a statement, Pedersen said that the budget could undermine efforts to retain police officers and detectives.
Mosqueda said that while public safety is a priority, "We've added funding for regional peacekeepers, added funding for mental health services, funding for gender-based violence support, funding for youth violence reduction programs and gun violence reduction strategies."
The budget will now go to Mayor Bruce Harrell's desk. He has the option to sign and accept it, veto it completely or not sign it and it would go into law.