Earlier today the City Council voted out of committee two bills that encompass the “Seattle Rescue Plan” for spending $128 million of federal COVID relief funding.
As reported yesterday, the Council had nine amendments they planned to consider today, mostly minor changes. All nine amendments were adopted, eight of them unanimously. The only amendment where there was a split opinion was one that added more specificity to how the Office of Economic Development may spend $22 million of economic recovery grant funding. Councilmember Morales proposed a split of $7.5 million for downtown and neighborhood grants, with downtown capped at $2 million and neighborhoods receiving $5.5 million. Councilmember Lewis objected to that cap for downtown, noting that the downtown area is critical to overall economic recovery and had effectively been “deactivated” for the past eighteen months; he called it “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Morales acknowledged that downtown recovery is important, but argued that the Downtown Seattle Association, the Business Improvement Area covering downtown, “has a large budget” and she believed it can cover needed investments. Somewhat confusing matter, Morales’ amendment also carves out $3 million under the auspices of the Office of Arts and Culture for grants to arts and culture organizations, and much of that funding might also go to downtown organizations given the “arts hub” downtown (as Lewis called it). The amendment passed by a 3-1-1 vote, with Lewis voting “no” and Strauss abstaining; Lewis said that he will consider bringing an amendment to the full Council that would dedicate some of the arts funding to downtown organizations.
The amended bills unanimously passed out of committee today. They will be on the agenda next Monday afternoon for final approval — where they will likely receive another unanimous vote.
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