SEATTLE - Seattle City Councilmembers joined Mayor Mike McGinn and community organizations for the first of two budget-related public hearings. Hundreds packed the New Holly Gathering Hall in South Seattle as the Council figures out where to make $12 million in immediate budget cuts and more long-term cuts in the next budget year.
"We have to identify approximately $12 million in cuts in a mid year budget process," Mayor McGinn told the glum crowd. "In the middle of a budget year, you don't have the opportunity to get new revenues. There's not enough time. You must make the adjustment now."
McGinn added the city faces an even larger deficit in the 2011-12 budget year, some $56 million, as a result of continued economic turmoil.
According to city staff, about 57 percent of the General Fund goes to police, criminal justice and fire services. Just 17 percent goes to parks and libraries and 6 percent to human services. Social service providers who help children, the homeless and who provide healthcare for the poor say human services should be one of the last places to cut.
"Any cuts in human services now puts Seattle residents at serious risk," said Sumayya Diop, a member of the Seattle Human Services Coalition.
"We need to serve the community," said Max Chan of International Community Health Services. "It's not like people will stop coming to see us. People are not going to stop calling 9-1-1, the police or fire. It's still going to keep coming."
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 4 at the North Seattle Community College cafeteria, 9600 College Way North, Seattle. Sign-in is at 5 p.m. and the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.