Thursday January 4, 2018 was the first meeting of the Progressive Revenue Task Force. The task force was established by Resolution 31782, passed during the November Budget discussion soon after a narrow majority of Councilmembers voted against the progressive Employee Hours Tax (EHT) that would have funded $13 million in programs serving homeless people as well as creating a new on-going revenue stream that we could bond against – in order to invest nearly $50 million more each year (over and above the annual Housing Levy funds) to build 2000 additional new units of affordable housing.
Though they voted “no,” on that version of an Employee Hours Tax, at the same time a majority of Councilmembers sent a clear signal supporting future passage of a progressive EHT that would generate between $25 million and $75 million in revenue per year. The resolution outlined a scope of work for the task force including:
- Explore potential new progressive revenue sources, including an Employee Hours Tax (EHT)
- Identify investments to be paid for using those progressive revenue sources that would assist people who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless in obtaining and retaining stable housing
There are four task force co-chairs; two City Council chairs and two community co-chairs. Councilmember Gonzalez and I co-chair the task force with community co-chairs: Progress Alliance of Washington Program Director and former Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley and Homesight Executive Director Tony To.
The first meeting of the task force was an opportunity to meet the task force members, introduce the co-chairs and discuss and approve a work plan. The task force will be meeting 4 more times. The final meeting will be March 1, when the task force will review the draft report based on their recommendations and finalize it. The next Progressive Revenue Task Force meeting will be Thursday January 18th. The task force meetings are open to the public and future meetings will be recorded by the Seattle Channel. You can find information about the time and location of task force meetings on the City Council’s website calendar page.
The Department of Neighborhoods (DON) is accepting proposals for the Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets grant program, through February 2.
A project is eligible if it benefits the public, is a physical or capital improvement project in Seattle’s parks or streets, and does not exceed $90,000.
Eligible projects include:
- Streets: curb bulbs, flashing beacons, low cost sidewalks, low cost curbing, median pedestrian crossings, speed humps, curb ramps, traffic circles, and asphalt paths;
- Parks: accessible picnic tables, park benches, park entrances, trail improvements, equipment improvements, and minor structural improvements
The revised budget balancing package I proposed during the budget process added an additional $1 million in funding, proposed by former Councilmember Kirsten Harris-Talley, increasing the total 2018 funding available to $3 million.
Public voting will take place from June 16 to July 16.
DON indicated that some projects submitted but not funded in 2017 will be carried over for consideration in 2018. The Citywide map of these projects is here. There are two links for District 1; here’s the southern D1 map, and the northern D1 map.
Last week, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to change the federal government’s approach to legalized marijuana. As chair of the Council’s committee on issues related to economic development, I released the following statement:
“Seattle, with critical vision and leadership from the cannabis industry, has approached marijuana legalization diligently and responsibly, and developed thoughtful and reasonable City regulations for how marijuana establishments would operate in our communities. We barred dispensaries from opening near schools, libraries, parks, child care centers, or playgrounds recognizing the federal government’s interest in maintaining public safety and distancing businesses from children. Critical to this successful outcome has been the creation of cannabis trade organizations that, very early on, promoted good business practices with community safety and business responsibility as central to their mission.
“As a city where marijuana growers and retailers are good community partners, and contribute to economic development, the federal government’s new approach is both alarming and disappointing, especially when there are much more significant issues to address.
“Seattle currently hosts approximately 42 retail locations, and dozens of related businesses. Our City has been allocated $569,891 in 2018 tax proceeds due to marijuana sales. Statewide, marijuana revenues support substance abuse programs, community health centers, the state’s portion of Medicaid, dropout prevention programs, and many other priorities. Minimizing the bad, old underground cannabis market has made our communities safer. I hope the Western Washington United States Attorney recognizes that ending or scaling back marijuana legalization in Washington would have far more reaching implications than one might think.”
Seattle Public Utilities is accepting applications through February 23, for the new “Waste-Free Communities Matching Grant.” This grant focus is community based projects that prevent waste by using less, reusing items, and sharing or donating items. The total fund is $100,000 to be awarded in 2018-2019.
If you’re a non-profit, business, community group, or school interested in reducing waste you should consider applying. Grants can range from $2,000 to $15,000. The application deadline is February 23, and notices of decisions will be sent in April. If you’re interested, go here to apply, and send me an email about your application too!