Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Council leadership plan meetings in September to resolve their differences over cuts to the police department budget and how to close the City’s $326 million budget shortfall.
Durkan has vetoed the revised 2020 budget that was passed by the Council in mid-August. In a recent newsletter, the Mayor outlined her objections to the Council’s revised budget:
- Elimination of 100 police officers, including layoffs of 70 sworn officers in 2020 despite legal and labor contract limitations of “out of order” layoffs;
- The effective elimination of the Navigation Team, including outreach workers in the Human Services Department, without any alternative approach to address hazardous homeless encampments;
- Cuts to the salaries of the Chief of Police and senior leadership team;
- Cuts and changes to SPD that could violate the City’s obligations under the federal consent decree;
- Borrowing $13 million dollars from other City funds for new spending this year when the City faces an unprecedented budget deficit of $326 million; and
- Taking an additional $3 million dollars from the Rainy Day fund to increase Council’s budget by 17 percent.
Durkan has proposed 30% police budget cuts through 2021 but thinks the Council’s proposals are too deep. An override of the Mayor’s veto requires a 2/3 vote of the nine-member Council.
Seattle retailers and Washington Retail are paying close attention to the police funding issue. Organized retail crime is a big problem in Seattle. Even before any budget cuts, police response times have been a problem for many retailers in Seattle.
After a proposed 40% cut to her salary prompted former Police Chief Carmen Best to announce her retirement in August, some on the Council have expressed interest in working with the Mayor on the police budget. The Council is on a two-week recess until September 4. The Council expects to adopt a 2021 City budget in November.
Former Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz has since been sworn in as interim Police Chief.