Seattle Budget Process Has Key Focus on Police
Seattle city council members are midway through the budget process, wading through almost 120 budget actions and legislative intents for the 2021 budget. As expected, budget priorities are centered around continuation of services and programs and avoiding major cuts.
Budget proposals related to public safety and the Seattle Police Department are of key interest amid calls to defund the police department and direct budget dollars elsewhere. Councilmembers have put forward actions to increase homelessness outreach in certain neighborhoods and working with the business improvement associations to staff liaisons between service providers and businesses. There have also been requests to increase funding to the fire department’s Health One mobile unit, which aids with mental and behavioral health needs.
Lastly, the actions related to the police department are a mix of requests for regular reporting on overtime use, staffing, 911 response times, and other operations within the department, and funding cuts. The larger cuts in funding will come from overtime savings, vacancy and attrition savings, and layoffs of 35 officers. Budget process will affect the search for a new police chief, as the Mayor will wait until after the budget process so future police chief candidates know what they are applying for and the budget they have to work with for police operations.
Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda will now take the budget actions that were able to get additional sponsors and work them into her balancing package. The package will be announced in mid-November.