Mayor Durkan Statement on New Economic Forecast in Seattle, Highlighting Continued Decline in 2020


Mayor Durkan Statement on New Economic Forecast in Seattle, Which Highlights Continued Decline in 2020 and 2021 for City Revenues


Revenue projections now estimate additional unfunded budget shortfall of $26 million for 2020

Seattle (August 10, 2020) - The City Budget Office today released their latest economic forecasts and revenue projections for Seattle, which showed an additional reduction to the 2020 General Fund revenue by $26.0 million (-2.1%) relative to the June forecast and is now projecting a total 2020 General Fund revenues of $1.19 billion, down from the adopted 2020 budget of $1.5 billion.

When combined with the loss of other revenues streams that support a variety of basic municipal services, the City now anticipates $337 million less revenue, when compared to the adopted 2020 Adopted Budget. This represents a revenue shortfall  of 19%. You can view the memo on the City Budget Office forecasts, which was provided to the Mayor and City Council today.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the most consequential and transformative events of our lifetime, and 2020 has been a year of so many unprecedented and unforeseen challenges. Our City government has completely transformed to provide relief to focus on communities of color who have been  disproportionately impacted by this crisis so we can get through this together. While we must continue to meet the evolving needs of our residents and small businesses, the City’s revenues continue to decline, and we are seeing unexpected new emergencies like West Seattle Bridge and the new discovery that Pier 58, or the Waterfront Park, may have deteriorated to the point of failure. And we’re not even three quarters of the way through 2020,” said Mayor Durkan.

“In the initial days of the crises, we acted quickly to address the basic needs of so many of our residents and small businesses.  I continue to wholeheartedly support additional COVID-19 relief for our residents. Two weeks ago, I made the hard decision to veto the depletion of our City reserves because it was my belief that the City may need its emergency funds if our revenues continued to plunge. Unfortunately, today’s projections confirm that is the case. Our challenge is to chart a course to meet 2020’s basic city services, support current COVID-19 relief, and address any additional unanticipated challenges. We also know that the City alone cannot scale to the scope of the challenges facing our city, region, and state. All of us in Seattle and Washington must be demanding bold Congressional action for our residents, small businesses and cities,” concluded Mayor Durkan.

Beginning in early and mid-March, Mayor Durkan instructed departments across City government to take early action on budget reductions with an emphasis on a hiring freeze, halting contracts and expenses, and curtailing discretionary spending not related to COVID-19 response. In June, Mayor Durkan submitted a revised budget proposal that included $233 million in additional spending related to COVID-19 and a $300 million decline in revenue to the City.

Last month, Mayor Durkan urged that the Council delay its vote to spend 90% of the rainy day and emergency funds understanding revenue projections for this year could worsen with additional forecasts.

To address the significant budget impacts in 2020, the Mayor will continue to review the need to further adjust the budget through administrative or Council action, especially as more data emerges on tax collection, the duration of COVID-19 restrictions in King County, and economic relief by the federal government.

Disclosure: The information in the presentation is a forecast and “forward-looking statement.” No assurance can be given that the forecast results described will be realized, and actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied. This information is prepared primarily to provide information to City officials and staff. It has not been prepared with a view to, nor is it suitable for, any investment decision regarding any bonds or financial obligations of the City or any of its instrumentalities. The financial data and other information provided herein is not warranted as to completeness or accuracy for purposes of federal securities laws and regulations. This forecast information speaks only as of the date it was prepared and is subject to change without notice. Any person interested in the bonds or financial obligations of the City should carefully review any information posted by the City at emma.msrb.org.