Tuesday, December 25, 2012

September through November 2012 Minutes

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October 23, 2012

Meeting called to order at 7:11pm; introductions. Minutes from September meeting approved.
SCCF bank balance: #3,414.82.

Topic: Budget
Mayor presents the proposed budget in late September; City Council acts on it and approves by mid-November. The City Budget is a statement of the city's priorities. It is a two-year budget. In the general fund, the largest amount is budgeted on public safety.

Bill Bradburd asked if we know how much other cities pay for public safety.
Chris Leman: Good question.
Jeff Floor: Similarly sized Boston has more police.
Chris Leman: Other cities are cutting public safety and closing fire stations. The Mayor feels there is enough revenue this year to add officers, more staff.
Jeannie Hale asked about Crime Prevention, public education, block watches.
Chris Leman: There have been steady cuts to the Crime Prevention program; the Neighborhood Councils prevented the elimination of the program altogether. The program tries to focus on prevention and identifying hot spots.
Kathryn Keller mentioned East PAC meetings.
Chris Leman said that East PAC is open but West PAC is dominated by downtown; police chief selects members. Chris said there is a proposal to have a portion of the parking fees goes into a fund to improve the business districts (where there are parking fees.)
Jeannie Hale: Is there any indication that we need to keep the current police chief?
Chris Leman said that the police chief serves at the pleasure of the Mayor. The City Council reviews every five years. Fed emergency funds decreasing. Utilities accounts for more than half the budget but there is no communication from the dept.
Kathryn Keller said there is good communication in Madison Valley.
Chris Leman said that under state law, must have newspaper of record, The Daily Journal of Commerce is not appropriate for notices.
Bill Bradburd said there is $2 billion in deferred maintenance. Some arterials in bad condition. The underfunding doesn't keep up with the backlog. Preventive maintenance is zero.
Chris Leman introduced John Barber to help us review the Parks budget.
Lionel Job asked about Dept. of Neighborhoods.
Chris Leman said it is the smallest department. There have been cuts in the number of district coordinators and the Landmarks Board. They have an education in schools program.
John Barber said it is difficult to respond in a short time but he said the Parks Foundation conducted a study, which shows that Parks is $20 million a year short of funds, and has been losing ground since 1991. There have been significant reductions in force. Although the funds are going up, Parks is still losing 6 staff positions (FTEs.) This means more cutbacks in maintenance. Seasonal workers cut. Painting crew very low in staff; they are supposed to paint comfort stations in the parks and paint out graffiti.
Carol Fisher is on the COLA (Community off-leash areas) Board. The lawn in these areas is only cut 2x per year.
Skip Knox asked about the lower figure for judgment of claims. Why the lower projection?
Do they anticipate fewer claims?
John Barber thinks it is a reflection of a large settlement paid in previous year.
Carol Fisher pointed out that the Parks Foundation has a focus on parks and not recreation.
Kathryn Keller asked about the Green Seattle Partnership.
Chris Leman said the previous Mayor had a 25-year plan to help maintain parks. There is rigorous reporting from Green Seattle.
Chris Leman said the Bicycle Master Plan has no greenways in it. Sally Bagshaw has been promoting greenways but there is no legislation to get the greenways into the master plan. The Budget process seems to be ahead of the planning process. Greenways are supposed to connect major parts of the city. Money should be set aside for pedestrian/bicycle projects and have the neighborhoods compete for the funds. We want more funding set aside for Parks than the Parks Board is asking for.
Jeannie Hale said the Community Center hours should be evened up.
Carol Fisher: some CCs are getting extra hours.
Chris Leman made the motion that the Federation write a letter urging improved funding for the Parks, equitable hours for community center operations and additional funding for crime prevention. Rick Barrett offered the second. Motion approved unanimously. 
Meeting adjourned at 9:17pm.