On November 29, the Seattle City Council approved the City’s 2023 budget. However, disagreement on several issues led three Councilmembers to vote “no,” sparking angry responses from other Councilmembers.
The most significant area of dispute involved the elimination of 80 unfilled positions in the Seattle Police Department budget. While all Councilmembers agree that this cut will not reduce the number of officers – the budget funds all current positions and the 30 officers SPD expects to add – both Councilmembers Pedersen and Nelson highlighted this as a primary reason for their votes against the budget. The Seattle Police Department is expected to have 962 officers at the close of 2022, down from 1,290 officers at the start of 2022.
CMs Pedersen and Nelson expressed their concern that the elimination of 80 authorized positions sends the message that the Council is not fully committed to addressing public safety. The editorial board of The Seattle Times also took the Council majority to task for the cut.
Council Budget chair Teresa Mosqueda issued a statement praising the Council’s commitment to addressing public safety, despite the need to close a projected $140 million budget gap. “Despite a grim budget forecast, the Chair stayed true to our values and invested in public safety with a racial equity and justice lens — despite the rhetoric, this budget decreases community safety investments.”