The budget includes $3 million for the pedestrian safety fixes like sidewalks, flashing crosswalks and pedestrian "refuge" islands, and $2 million for library materials following reports that the city's library system is low on books.
But the budget doesn't include the mayor's plan to add a new 311 call center to help residents access city services. The mayor touted the $8.9 million system as a way to ensure that city officials would never again be stuck rattling off a half-dozen numbers for assistance, as they did during last year's windstorm. Consolidation, he argued, was the answer. And he proposed 13.5 new employees to make it happen. The council was unconvinced, but they still opted to study the issue, and earmarked $500,000 to fund an analysis of and future improvements to the city's means for reaching the public. In their statement of intent, the council notes that existing staff could be used to man the call center and cites Vancouver B.C.'s $5.7 million system as proof customer service can be done cheaper.
While officially supportive of most of the council-passed budget, the mayor was less than pleased that his call center idea got gutted. He blasted the council, charging them with being exclusive and insensitive. ?I?m disappointed the council decided this wasn?t a priority," Nickels said in a statement. "A 311 system would be invaluable not only in an emergency, but on a daily basis, it would make our government more open, accountable, inclusive and responsive to everyone, including Seattle?s growing immigrant and refugee communities.?