When the first COVID-19 cases were discovered in early March, the City of Seattle mobilized for quick and comprehensive response across all its departments, from opening up additional shelters for people experiencing homelessness, to protecting residents from evictions and utility shut-offs, to standing up emergency child care for Seattle’s essential workers and first responders. These efforts, along with countless others in partnership with state, public health, and community organizations—as well as the critical role played by residents in stopping the spread—helped Seattle became a model for the rest of the country in how to save lives and protect our health care system from becoming overwhelmed.
But the financial impact of COVID-19 is significant. Dramatically reduced City revenues due to business closures and reduced economic activity in Seattle, combined with increased spending on a variety of fronts to fight the disease and mitigate its effect, have resulted in a shortfall of over $200 million. As the City Budget Office (CBO) and City departments have evaluated the financial impact of the pandemic, departments have been asked to reevaluate discretionary spending and identify budget reductions for 2020.[Read more…]