Today’s meetings were short and to the point.
This morning the Council had a briefing from the Office of Intergovernmental Relations on their work to write the city’s agenda for the upcoming state legislative session, which begins on January 8th. The big focus of the legislature will be on writing a capital budget. But they are also waiting to hear from the state Supreme Court on whether the education funding plan passed earlier this year meets the requirements as dictated in the Court’s McCleary ruling; if the Court finds they are not yet in compliance, they will need to take that up again.
As for the city’s priorities, they generally fall into three buckets:
- Investments in housing, homelessness, and the social safety net;
- Law and public safety, including the ability to hire non-citizens for public safety employment, gun safety regulations, and changing the standard for being able to charge a police officer with misuse of deadly force;
- Environmental issues, including allowing Seattle City Light to use ratepayer revenues to incentivize electrification of transportation;
- Education and general government, including changes to education funding that gives a fairer deal to Seattle schools; small cellular antenna deployment regulations, and “shared economy” regulations.
Council President Harrell has been discussing with House speaker Frank Chopp whether the city should pick its top three issues and focus on getting something accomplished with those three rather than spreading its efforts more thinly.
In other news, Council member Johnson said that the ordinance regulating short-term rentals (i.e. the “AirBnB” regulations) will come up for a vote in front of the full Council next week. Council member O’Brien noted that he intended to offer two amendments to the legislation:
- increasing the $10/night tax to $14/night, with $2 assessed to the platform operator rather than the property owner.
- dedicating the first $5 million of annual revenues (after administration costs) to the Equitable Development Initiative.
In a swipe at Mayor Tim Burgess, who proposed that the short-term rental tax revenues could be used instead of a new employee-hours tax, Council member Harris-Talley — a co-sponsor of the employee-hours tax — suggested, “Let’s not muddy the waters with recommendations from the Executive Branch.”
This afternoon, Council member Gonzalez, whose committee oversees SPD-related issues, asked to push ratification of the city’s new contract with SPMA (the union representing SPD lieutenants and captains) out to next week. She had been called out of the state due to a family emergency last week, and needed more time to fully review and digest the contract. She said that the Community Police Commission also asked for additional time to review the contract.
Here’s a FAQ written by the Council Central Staff that helps to explain the potential revenues from the short-term rentals regulation/tax and the employee-hours tax.