Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today presented to the City Council his proposed budget for 2015-16 that brings more transparency, more innovation, better organization and better performance to City government.
Murray outlined several major reform proposals, beginning with key reforms to the City’s budgeting process itself.
“We will move toward a performance-based budgeting system and begin paying for outcomes,” said Murray in his budget address to Council. “This will lead to streamlining of services, better use of resources and greater performance from our departments. And, perhaps most importantly, it will drive better service for the people of Seattle.”
Murray’s additional proposed reforms to the City’s budgeting process include:
- moving City departments to a standard accounting system;
- conducting a zero-based budgeting exercise for a least two City departments for a better accounting of baseline expenditures;
- launching an interactive, online “Open Budget” tool on the model of the City of Boston’s tool for greater transparency in City spending;
- developing performance metrics for all City departments for more efficiency and accountability;
- launching an online dashboard to track department performance and provide greater transparency and accountability; and
- establishing an advisory committee on the model of the state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council to provide greater transparency and better performance.
“We will use data – not tradition – to drive how our government functions,” Murray said.
Murray also proposed what he said will be ‘a major restructuring of how we as a City plan for our future.’
“We will look across departments to establish new best practices of coordinated planning,” said Murray, “so that as we plan, we plan together, and when we build new housing, we are also planning new jobs, parks and transportation to support them.”
And, Murray said he has tasked Human Services Director John Okamoto to conduct an audit of the City’s nearly $35 million annual investment in homeless services and to compare City spending against national best practices.
“On any given night, there are at least 2,300 unsheltered individuals on our city streets – and very likely there are more,” said Murray. “It is time for us to learn if a better budgeting approach here in City Hall will create better outcomes for individuals living right now on the streets of this city.”
In his address to Council, Murray restated his priorities of a safe, affordable, vibrant and interconnected city for all. Highlights of Murray’s 2015-16 budget by priority area are available by clicking here.
Murray also said his budget shows how cities can be ‘an incubator of change’ and ‘a laboratory of democracy’ by funding ‘bold policy experimentation,’ including:
- a new Office of Labor Standards to implement Seattle’s landmark $15-per-hour minimum wage law;
- new investment in local careers as the City invests in its own infrastructure;
- a new, Cabinet-level Department of Early Learning and Education;
- the new ‘Ready for Work’ program in the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs; and
- a new environmental equity initiative in the Office of Sustainability & Environment.
“These budget commitments demonstrate a City government flexible enough to reorganize around our priorities and support new policy that reflects the evolving needs of our communities,” Murray said.
As the centerpiece of his agenda for a more affordable city, Murray said that he would announce with Council the members, structure and timeframe for action of his Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on September 23 at 10:30 a.m. on the Seventh Floor of City Hall.
City Council will begin the hearings on the budget proposal on October 2nd.