How Mayor's new budget influences the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

RE: Mayor’s Proposed 2015-16 Budget Dear Community Member:

This afternoon (September 22), Mayor Murray presented his Proposed 2015-‘16 Budget to the Seattle City Council. While the Mayor did not discuss all of the specifics of the proposed budget, I want to share information regarding his budget as it relates to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON). Even though the city has not quite recovered from the impact of the recession and has new and pressing needs, the department has still been given additional opportunities to continue our mission.

The biggest change for DON is that the Office of Education and Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (SYVPI) are leaving the department to create the new Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL). Even though this does not impact the work of the department, you will see a significant drop in our total budget of $6.5 million that will be transferred to the new DEEL.

In the proposed budget are several technical adjustments. They include adjustments for healthcare costs, retirement, COLA, inflation, etc., staff funding alignments*, and reductions due to one-time projects that were funded last year. Based on these adjustments, you may see increases or even decreases in program budgets, but they don’t negatively affect the staffing level or the ability to operate DON programs or services.

Here are the notable changes to our budget:

P-Patch Community Gardening Program

With the rapid increase in the number of P-Patch gardens, the proposed budget includes $24,207 to fund increased water costs ($10,000) and the regular maintenance to the new web-based database ($14,000) that will launch this fall. It also increases the existing half-time administrative staff to a full-time position which will be covered using existing funds.

People’s Academy for Community Engagement (PACE)

During its two-year pilot, PACE has been led by three Neighborhood District Coordinators. Due to the fact that this work is very extensive and has been “additive” to the work of the District Coordinators, the PACE program could not continue under this staffing model. The Mayor’s proposed budget includes a new half-time position that will be dedicated to oversee and operate PACE to help us continue this successful program.
Neighborhood Matching Fund

*In order to have or even keep administrative support for programs, positions have been funded from various pockets. The proposed budget now aligns the positions with their program. This includes management positions as well.

Over the years, the Neighborhood Matching Fund has accrued a fund balance of $1.5 million. These are dollars that have not been awarded or are underspent by projects. Because this money is available and can be reallocated for other neighborhood purposes, it will be used to support projects through the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund (small projects only). This one-time use of the fund balance in 2015 will have no impact on the total award resources available to neighborhoods through the Fund; plus these dollars will be used to support neighborhoods’ transportation needs.

The Mayor’s Proposed 2015-‘16 Budget can be found at www.seattle.gov/financedepartment. Seattle City Council will review the budget, conduct meetings with each department and hold public hearings on October 7 at Garfield Community Center and October 23 at Seattle City Hall. You can learn more on their website at www.seattle.gov/council/budget/.

Thank you for your interest and support of our mission to strengthen our vibrant neighborhoods and engage all communities – work that makes Seattle such a great place to live.
Sincerely,
Bernie Matsuno, Director
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

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