Notes from this morning’s Council Briefing

Here are some quick notes from this morning’s Council Briefing, before we all get distracted by the rollout of the Mayor’s budget proposal this afternoon.

This afternoon there Council will vote on a resolution to approve the process and timeline for appointing a person to fill the vacancy on the Council left by Tim Burgess. Council member Johnson will likely bring forward an amendment to move the evening public hearing from Wednesday to Tuesday, so that if there is an abundance of public comments they can schedule an additional public hearing for Wednesday evening. He also wants to invite all of the qualified candidates to be at the public hearing to make a brief statement before public comments begin. The effectiveness of such a plan depends entirely on how many candidates file applications this week.¬† Council member O’Brien has been put in charge of organizing the separate community forum, in cooperation with community organizations. It seems that he is aiming to hold that forum on Tuesday evening and was not supportive of Johnson’s proposal. We’ll see how that plays out this afternoon.

In the meantime, Burgess’ vacant seat means that the Council needs to play musical chairs, and two separate resolutions this afternoon will officially move those chairs around¬† Council member Herbold will take over as Chair of the Budget Committee, with Johnson and O’Brien serving as First and Second Vice-Chairs, respectively. But since the Council’s rules prohibit the Council President from also serving as chair of the finance committee to avoid consolidating too much power in one person, the Council will also update the rotation schedule for who will serve as President Pro Tem when President Harrell is unavailable; Herbold was scheduled for November.

In other news, Herbold may push out the final approval of SPU rate changes for one or two weeks in order for her to have further discussions with SDOT, WSDOT and SPU about Move Seattle projects. The Move Seattle levy funds several transportation projects, and SPU coordinates with those projects to replace aging infrastructure at the same time. It save time and money for the city by leveraging the opportunity when the road is already dug up, but it forces SPU onto the schedule for those transportation projects — also forcing SPU’s budget onto that schedule. Part of the driving force for SPU’s large rate increases over the next couple of years is the need to pay for its part of those Move Seattle projects, but Herbold wants to understand the likelihood that some of those projects will slip out so that SPU might have the opportunity to push out its cash-flow needs as well.

O’Brien will likewise hold on approving a property sale of the old trolley barn site in South Lake Union, since it became apparent that the city didn’t properly reach out for community input.

The Human Services Department gave a lengthy presentation this morning on the first year of the Pathways Home effort to address the homelessness crisis. I’ll write that up separately.