Mayor Jenny Durkan indicators 2021 price range, hopes Seattle has “turned a nook”


Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan hopes she and the Metropolis Council have “turned a nook” on the crises and the political clashes which have characterised this 12 months, Durkan mentioned Tuesday as she signed the town’s 2021 price range into regulation.

Adopted by the council final week, the price range had to answer COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter rebellion and the West Seattle Bridge closure — all sudden. It additionally needed to handle a persistent homelessness disaster, with tent encampments rising through the pandemic.

“This 12 months’s price range course of was unprecedented,” partly as a result of COVID-19 financial disruptions have constricted tax revenues, Durkan mentioned in a information convention, touting “historic investments” regardless of the town’s challenges.

The mayor sparred with the council over the summer season as they reworked the town’s 2020 price range, objecting to plans to spend reserves on COVID-19 aid and to lay off cops.

Tensions eased as they hammered out the 2021 price range this fall. They reached a compromise on COVID-19 aid and agreed to cut back police spending considerably (15% to twenty%, relying on hiring and layoff outcomes), largely by transferring civilian 911 call-center and parking-enforcement staff to a different division and by eliminating vacant officer positions.

Most council members in the summertime mentioned they might attempt to defund the police by 50%, beneath stress from activists. “We see now … that a way more deliberate course of needs to be performed,” Durkan mentioned Tuesday.

The 2021 price range will spend a document sum to alleviate homelessness. It can permit the Police Division and Fireplace Division to rent extra social staff and mental-health specialists. It can direct tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} towards applications and tasks meant to deal with racial inequities, the mayor mentioned.

Durkan initially proposed a $100 million fairness initiative, convening a activity power to suggest investments. Council members reallocated $70 million for different makes use of they mentioned would promote fairness, together with $30 million that shall be disbursed primarily based on suggestions by group members through “participatory budgeting.”

A few of that cash doubtless shall be spent on non-police responses to sure 911 calls. “Cops themselves will inform you there are lots of conditions the place an armed individual” isn’t acceptable, Durkan mentioned.

The mayor touted a $3 million improve in spending on trash cleanup and parks repairs. Seattle’s open areas have deteriorated lately, Durkan acknowledged. The mayor credited such price range outcomes to “collaborative work” with the council and an up to date forecast final month that improved the town’s income projections.

She didn’t point out the price range’s reductions, which can delay infrastructure tasks throughout the town. Nor did she point out a brand new tax on large companies that the council handed in July, which is predicted to lift greater than $200 million subsequent 12 months, stopping deeper cuts. Durkan criticized the tax over the summer season.

Whereas the price range could also be full, “COVID shouldn’t be performed with us,” the mayor famous Tuesday. The Fireplace Division is finishing up no-cost assessments at websites across the metropolis, with greater than 425,000 carried out to-date, Durkan mentioned.

The price range requires $22 million in spending subsequent 12 months on COVID-19 aid applications similar to small-business grants and grocery vouchers.

2021 price range spending

  • Whole: $6.5 billion, with $1.5 billion basic fund, the identical as this 12 months (most cash exterior the final fund is restricted to utilities and transportation)
  • Homelessness: $167 million, up from about $109 million this 12 months
  • Police Division: $346 million or much less (the precise price range will checklist the next quantity, as a result of the transfers of parking enforcement officers and 911 call-center staff is probably not accomplished instantly), down from $409 million this 12 months
  • COVID-19 aid: $22 million