- See also: Washington public pensions
Seattle's mayor is Mike McGinn. McGinn won election in 2009 with 50.88% of the vote. According to a poll released on May 7, 2012 by KING5/SurveyUSA, McGinn holds an approval rate of 32% and a disapproval rate of 49%.
Initiatives and positions
- Neighborhood plan
- McGinn campaigned to allow commercial development in family neighborhoods, but the plan met strong opposition from the general public and was rejected by a City Council committee.
- Controversy over spokesman salary
- McGinn was criticized after his new spokesperson was hired for $120,000 a year, or $21,00 more than the previous spokesperson, while asking for city departments to cut 3% of their budgets.
- Electrical rate increase of 31% over 6 years
- McGinn has proposed an increase of 31%, or an average of 4.7% a year, for customers of the city's power utility company. Seattle City Light customers would face a $35 annual increase for a family home, roughly $109,000 for a hotel, and $632,000 for a large customer such as a steel mill. Rates for customers have risen 18% over the previous two years. The mayor contends the rate increase will improve the predictability of prices that have fluctuated in recent years. Business such Boeing and Nucor Steel along with Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce stressed the need to balance rate increases with cost controls. The proposal is awaiting approval from the City Council. 
The Seattle City Council is made up of nine members elected to four-year terms.
|Sally J. Clark (President)||9||2012-2015||$113,152|
|Bruce A. Harrell||3||2012-2015||$113,152|
The table below outlines the top 10 employee salaries for 2011:
|NAME||JOB TITLE||DEPARTMENT||HOURLY||REG PAY||OVERTIME||GROSS PAY|
|Woodbury,James P||Fire Chief,Dep-91.4 Hrs||Fire Department||$63.77||$143,157||$91,249||$248,788|
|Duggins,Angelo||Fire Chief,Dep-80 Hrs||Fire Department||$75.13||$154,947||$85,014||$242,553|
|Carrasco,Jorge||City Light Supt||City Light||$107.79||$224,195||$0||$224,195|
|Sodeman,Earl H||Fire Chief,Dep-91.4 Hrs||Fire Department||$65.33||$154,858||$65,882||$222,308|
|West,Philip W||Electric Util Exec 3,Ofcr||City Light||$105.36||$219,157||$0||$219,157|
|Leiber,Philip R||Electric Util Exec 3,Ofcr||City Light||$105.36||$219,156||$0||$219,156|
|Hastings,Bryan W||Fire Chief,Dep-80 Hrs||Fire Department||$69.85||$139,235||$79,276||$218,511|
|Baggs,James Lawrence||Electric Util Exec 3,Dir||City Light||$95.77||$193,072||$0||$217,428|
|Kern,Steven D||Electric Util Exec 3,Ofcr||City Light||$102.97||$214,175||$0||$214,175|
Salaries for Seattle employees rose by 17% during 2007-2010 according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. During that same time period, the number of employees decreased by 6.5%.
|Area||Expenditures||% of Total|
|Utilities & Transportation||$2.3 billion||58%|
|Public Safety||$534.3 million||14%|
|Neighborhoods & Dev.||$117.2 million||3%|
|Health & Human Svcs||$134.3 million||4%|
|Arts, Culture & Rec.||$274.5 million||7%|
|Funds, Subfunds, Other||$48.1 million||1%|
|Total All Funds||$3.9 billion||100%|
The city is required by law to have a balanced budget. Seattle anticipates at $42 million budget deficit for 2013, meaning the city will need to address this through cuts and/or increasing revenue.
Taxes in Seattle are handled by the Licensing & Tax Administration Division. Taxes imposed by the city include: commercial parking tax, employee hours tax, gambling tax, admission tax, utility tax, and property taxes.
As of July 1, 2012, Seattle has banned the use of plastic shopping bags and requires stores to charge 5 cents per paper bag.
- See also: Washington government sector lobbying
Seattle does not disclose how much it spends on lobbying on its website. According to Open Secrets, Seattle spent $20,000 with McBee Strategic Consulting in 2012.
|Year||Amount Spent on Lobbying|
Open records compliance
In 2008, a report by Washington state Auditor Brian Sonntag was critical of Seattle's government for the way it handled public records requests under the Washington Public Records Act. Sonntag said the city's compliance with requests was "inefficient" and fell short "of the legal requirements of the state's Public Records Act. In only two of 10 cases did the city meet the state's compliance standards." Each department in the city has its own rules for complying with requests, and people who submit requests are required to submit them to specific departments, since there is no central processing office.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer conducted a survey in 2007 of 270 law-enforcement agencies in the state of Washington; this survey found that the only agencies in the state that were less responsive to public records requests that the Seattle Police Department were "police agencies operated by sovereign Indian tribes not subject to the state's open records law."
The Seattle City Council has an Open Government Committee. The Seattle City Council voted unanimously on April 27, 2009 to implement legislation that will increase transparency. The legislation is planned to take effect by November 1, 2009.
The starting salary for a Seattle fire fighter is $62,856 per year.
The beginning salary for a Seattle police officer is $64,310.40 a year. The table below outlines the salary schedule for police officers.
Benefits for Seattle Police Officers and Fire Fighters include:
- Medical & Dental Coverage
- Life and disability Insurance
- Retirement Program
- Deferred Compensation Plan
- Credit Union Membership
- Sick Leave Accrual
- Vacation Days/Holidays, per collective bargaining agreement provisions
- Employee Assistance Services for Employee and Family Members
- Tuition Reimbursement program for qualifying students and courses
|Transparency grading process|
- Elected officials
- A city staff directory is posted.
- Budgets are posted.
- Budgets are archived for at least three years.
- Audits are posted.
- Audits are archived for at least three years.
- Bid opportunities and contracts are posted.
- Permits and zoning
- Public records
- Information on private lobbyists lobbying the city is provided.
- The site does not disclose whether the city belongs to any Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations or expenses the city incurs engaging with private lobbyists.
- Washington on State Budget Solutions
- City government website
- Historylink.org provides a collection of articles on the history of Seattle and Washington. See especially their history of Seattle and King County.
- Seattle City Council is committed to open government, April 10, 2009
- U.S. Census "Quick Facts," accessed March 18, 2012
- Seattle.gov "City Officials," accessed March 19, 2012
- Seattle Times, McGinn next Seattle mayor; Mallahan concedes as vote gap widens, November 9, 2009
- Publicola, Poll: Fewer Than One In Three Approve of McGinn, May 7, 2012
- King 5, Council dumps Mayor Mike McGinn's neighborhood plan, May 23, 2012
- Seattle Weekly, Mike McGinn Upgrades His Spokesperson for $20,000 Extra, While Budget-Wide Cuts Are Ordered Elsewhere, Apr. 21 2011
- Seattle Times, Mayor to propose Seattle City Light rate increase of 31% over 6 years, May 6, 2012
- Seattle Times, Mayor, business groups disagree on effect of higher electrical rates, May 7, 2012
- City Council
- News Tribune, City of Seattle Employee Salaries
- City Council
- News Tribune, City of Seattle Employee Salaries
- Biz Journals, Seattle payroll database: What do city workers earn?, February 22, 2011
- Seattle.gov "2012 Adopted Budget: Introduction," accessed March 19, 2012
- Licensing & Tax Administration Division
- Tax Types
- Plastic Bag Ban and B&O Tax
- OpenSecrets.org, City of Seattle, WA
- Seattle Times, "Guest column: Seattle falls short of state open-government standards," March 27, 2009
- Council approves ordinance to increase 'transparency', Ballard News-Tribune, April 27, 2009
- Salary and Benefits
- Police Salary
- Other Elected Officials
- Minutes and Agendas
- Agenda Archives
- Minutes archives
- Staff Directory
- Land Use Planning
- Property Taxes
- Public Disclosure