Notes from today’s Council meetings

There was plenty of talk — and posturing — today in the ongoing standoff between the Mayor and the City Council over potential cuts to SPD’s budgets. But a few other things happened too.


This morning, Council member Mosqueda, the budget chair, circulated a memo with an updated plan and calendar for the remainder of the summer budget session. she plans to wrap up the Council’s consideration of its payroll tax spending plan resolution on Wednesday morning, then focus the remainder of the Budget Committee meetings through the end of the month on the rebalancing package. This Wednesday afternoon the Council will discuss issues; next Wednesday and Thursday it will present and discuss potential amendments to the Mayor’s proposed rebalanced 2020 budget; on the following Wednesday (July 29) it will vote on amendments. On Monday morning, august 3rd, the budget committee will meet for the final time and vote the amended budget out of committee; it will then give the budget its final approval at the full Council meeting on Monday afternoon.

Mosqueda also previewed the agenda for this Wednesday’s morning and afternoon sessions. The Council will discuss and vote on the COVID-19 relief bill first, which spends $86 million from the city’s “rainy day” and emergency funds. Then it will proceed to the payroll tax spending plan resolution and consideration of amendments. Mosqueda said that she has gathered the relatively uncontroversial amendments into a substitute version of the resolution, which will be considered first. Then several other Council members will get their chance to offer amendments, including:

  • one by Sawant that will dedicate part of the revenues to building 1,000 new homes in the Central Area;
  • one by Strauss that take an additional $9 million from the rainy day and emergency funds to increase the small business stabilization fund;
  • another by Strauss that states the Council’s intent to provide additional support for small businesses by granting B&O tax relief.

This afternoon, Council member Lewis introduced his bill that would temporarily suspend provisions in commercial leases that hold small business owners personally liable for paying rent. “I think it’s only fair,” Lewis said, noting that no one anticipated the pandemic and ensuing economic collapse. “I don’t think anyone signed up for that.”  He said that New York and California are looking at similar measures to protect small business owners. However, his bill has one major obstacle: the Washington State Constitution, which in Article I Section 23 reads: “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligations of contracts shall ever be passed.” Lewis’s bill may be a good idea, but it’s clearly unconstitutional.

Lewis also announced that the City Council’s nominees for appointment to the Implementation Board of the new regional homeless authority would be Paula Carvalho from the Raikes Foundation, and Dr. Simha Reddy from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System.

Council member Pedersen announced that the Select Committee on the Seattle Transportation Benefit District renewal will meet this Friday morning to continue its deliberations. His hope is that the full Council will vote to approve the renewal proposal; the deadline to place it on the November ballot is August 4. Pedersen also said that after the public comment session at last Friday’s committee meeting he is pursuing an amendment that would shift money away from road work and towards funding more transit.

Council member Sawant noted that the “Tax Amazon” movement, which claims to have collected enough signatures to get its payroll tax on the November ballot, met last week and voted to hold on to its petition and signatures in case a referendum effort is begun on the tax that the Council passed.

Council member Strauss announced that the next meeting of his Land Use and Utilities Committee will be on July 22. At the meeting there will be public hearings on both a land use omnibus bill and his “childcare near you” bill.

Council member Herbold passed on some statistics from the Seattle Fire department related to its two free COVID testing sites. To-date they have performed more than 48,000 tests. They offer both walk-up and drive-up service.

Finally, Council President Gonzalez confirmed that the Council’s summer recess will be August 24 through September 4. No Council meetings will be held during those two weeks.

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