Budget balancing amendments proposed on Monday Nov. 14, 2022 – add Urban Forester position to OSE, request for OSE report on tree planting funds needed, added $250,000 for SDOT tree planting, $500 thousand cut in 2024 for Green Seattle Partnership funding
Public Hearing today, Tues Nov 15, 5 PM
see full Seattle City Council Select Budget Committee Initial Balancing Package proposal | Monday, November 14, 2022
pages 190 – 199
Budget Action Title: Add $147,000 JumpStart Fund (2023) and $190,000 JumpStart Fund (2024) and 1.0 FTE Strategic Advisor 3 to OSE for a City Urban Forester position
Budget Action Description: This Council Budget Action would add $147,000 JumpStart Fund in 2023 and $190,000 JumpStart Fund in 2024 and 1.0 FTE Strategic Advisor 3 to the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) for a City Urban Forester position. The 2022 Adopted Budget included Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) MO001-A-002-2022 requesting that the Mayor’s Office provide “a report with recommendations for the creation of a ‘chief arborist’ position that would promote the preservation of Seattle’s tree canopy and provide independent oversight of the City’s management of trees, with an initial focus on the preservation of exceptional trees.”
OSE submitted a SLI response (see Attachment A) on September 30, 2022, that provided recommendations for the position’s job responsibilities and qualifications and described opportunities and challenges related to the proposed position. In this response, Executive staff recommended that this position’s title should be City Urban Forester and that it “work with executive leadership and staff across urban forestry departments to establish and/or affirm citywide and department-specific strategy intended to support a healthy and robust tree canopy and urban forest in Seattle; provide an on-going assessment on the efficacy of policies and programs in meeting these goals; and recommend changes as needed to decision-makers.” In addition to the job responsibilities described in the SLI response, OSE is expected to: • Evaluate the City’s rules and regulations and propose changes as necessary to the Mayor and City Council that would provide the City Urban Forester with the necessary authority to accomplish its duties as envisioned; and • Ensure that this position: (1) advances racial equity and environmental justice; (2) oversees and implements the proposed Tree Canopy Equity and Resilience Plan and Seattle’s 2020 Urban Forest Management Plan as one of its core functions; and (3) supports development of policies that will help the City achieve its goals for an enhanced, healthy tree canopy and increased diversity of housing options for Seattle’s residents.
Budget Action Title: Request that OSE provide a report on Citywide funding for tree planting, stewardship, and other urban forestry-related activities
Statement of Legislative Intent: This Statement of Legislative Intent would request that the Office of Sustainability and Environment (OSE) collaborate with the City Budget Office and Urban Forestry Interdepartmental Team (IDT) to develop a report on the City’s funding and expenditures for tree planting, stewardship, and other related activities. Currently, there are nine City departments that have a role in managing Seattle’s urban forest: • OSE coordinates citywide policy development, updates the Urban Forest Management Plan and monitors its implementation, and provides administrative support for the Urban Forestry Commission; • Seattle Department of Transportation manages trees in the public right-of-way; • Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS), Seattle Center, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) manage trees on their property; • SPU engages community in urban forest stewardship on both private property and in the right-of-way; • Seattle City Light maintains trees near power lines; • Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) and the Office of Planning and Community Development develop policies and plans; and • SDCI enforces regulations for trees on private property. This distributed structure of the City’s urban forest management functions makes it challenging for the public to have a comprehensive understanding of how the City invests in maintaining and enhancing Seattle’s urban forest. FAS has recently agreed to create a Funding Source code to track revenue from illegal tree removal penalties and ensure that this revenue is used to support tree planting, stewardship, and planning activities. This modified accounting system will be implemented beginning on January 1, 2023. The report should include funding and expenditures for tree planting, stewardship, planning, and other related activities by department. Where possible, the report should provide information over multiple years to help reveal trends. Additionally, the report should offer recommendations for how the City can improve its practices on reporting the requested information moving forward and identify areas where additional funding may be needed so that the City can successfully implement the actions described in Seattle’s 2020 Urban Forest Management Plan
Budget Action Title: Add $250,000 JumpStart Fund (2023) to SDOT to plant trees in the public right-of-way
Budget Action Description: This Council Budget Action would add $250,000 JumpStart Fund in 2023 (one-time) to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to plant and support establishment of trees in the public right-of-way (ROW). Preliminary results from the City’s 2022 Canopy Cover Assessment revealed that canopy cover has declined by 1.7 percent citywide (and by 0.3 percent in the ROW) between 2016 and 2021. This funding should be used to plant new trees in environmental equity priority communities and other areas with low tree canopy cover in Seattle, and tree species should be resilient to climate change and pests.
p 221- 223
Budget Action Title: Reduce proposed funding for the Urban Forestry – Green Seattle Partnership CIP project by $500,000 REET II (2024) in SPR
Budget Action Description: This Council Budget Action would reduce proposed funding by $500,000 Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) II in 2024 (one-time) in Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) for the Urban Forestry – Green Seattle Partnership Capital Improvement Program (CIP) project. Remaining funding for this CIP project totals $1.2 million in 2024. The revenue forecast adopted by the Forecast Council on November 2, 2022, projects a reduction in anticipated revenues compared to the revenue forecast that was used to develop the Mayor’s 2023-2024 Proposed Budget. This updated forecast reduces the resources available to balance the 2023-2024