October 9, 2008 By Bill Schrier
Seattle - like most cities and counties - is now deep in the middle of its 2009 budget process. A looming recession, the housing crisis, decreasing revenues and increasing demands for City services are all colliding to strain a $878 million general fund budget. Faced with the need for "feet on the street" - cops, firefighters, clean parks, and human services - how will needs for maintaining and improving the City's technology fare in this looming budget earthquake?
Luckily, Mayor Nickels, Dwight Dively (the City's CFO) and their senior staff understand the need for investment in technology to support the "feet on the street". Oh, you won't hear a single reference to technology in the Mayor's budget speech on Monday, September 29th (if you missed it, view it here). The Mayor talked about issues such as public safety - continuing to add police officers to bring the department from 1,241 sworn officers in 2003 to 1,360 in 2010. He discussed significant increases in emergency shelter, food and library collections. In 2009, Seattle will spend more money to create affordable housing than every other City in the State, combined. There's $9 million to combat youth and gang violence.
While there was not a word about technology in the budget speech, there is a lot of action for technology in the budget itself. Seattle's elected officials know their "on the street" budget priorities will require technology to be successful, and here are a few examples.
It's one thing to add more cops, but each cop will require voice radios, laptop computers and digital video systems in cars, and this budget provides for those.