Seattle council members elevate questions, considerations about Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2021 price range plan


Seattle Metropolis Council members raised some questions and considerations about Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2021 price range plan Wednesday and Thursday, indicating that debates over the summer season about COVID-19 aid, police spending and group enter are prone to proceed within the coming weeks.

Durkan’s proposal, unveiled and despatched to the council for evaluation Tuesday, would shut a price range hole opened by the COVID-19 disaster, whereas reserving $100 million in investments throughout communities of colour. She promised the $100 million months in the past, initially for applications serving Black residents particularly, in response to the rebellion for Black lives and fairness.

The mayor’s price range would accomplish her goals with cuts throughout departments, cash from emergency reserves and an estimated $214 million in proceeds from the “JumpStart Seattle” tax on massive companies that the council accepted in July.

JumpStart proceeds

Durkan opposed JumpStart — a tax on pay by massive firms to workers who make no less than $150,000 per yr, warning the measure might harm the financial system. Now the mayor is counting on the tax, Councilmember Kshama Sawant famous as she and her colleagues dug into the mayor’s plan Wednesday. With out JumpStart, “there would have been a further $214 million in price range cuts,” Sawant stated throughout a budget-committee assembly.

Durkan is also utilizing the JumpStart proceeds in a method the council didn’t intend, stated Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who chairs the price range committee. The council earmarked the proceeds in 2021 to protect applications and jobs that may in any other case see reductions from the COVID-19 disaster; broaden companies for low-income communities and small companies; and prolong funding for pandemic-relief applications like rental help and grocery vouchers.

Durkan’s plan would meet these commitments, to some extent, price range director Ben Noble instructed the committee. However the JumpStart proceeds additionally would assist stability a price range that features the $100 million for communities of colour, decreasing potential assets for susceptible households with one hand to extend them with the opposite, Mosqueda stated. Durkan’s $100 million promise was a verify the mayor “couldn’t money” till she “swiped” JumpStart proceeds, the council member stated.

Whereas the mayor has expressed curiosity in proposing an earnings tax on households to bankroll subsequent, annual investments of $100 million in communities of colour, her 2021 plan contains no such measure.

Police spending

Council members concur with the essential concept behind Durkan’s $100 million pledge, they stated Wednesday, although the precise nature of the investments has but to be decided. What some council members object to is the supply of the cash, they stated, echoing the case made by some advocates that the town ought to spend money on communities of colour with {dollars} taken from the police.

“The cash wants to return from SPD, not different applications,” public commenter Leah Lucid instructed the price range committee Thursday earlier than a presentation on the Seattle Police Department’s budget.

The mayor’s 2021 plan would shed about 22 officers by way of attrition and cut back the division’s annual price range by about $60 million, largely by shifting civilian items outdoors the division.

Durkan additionally introduced Wednesday she would provoke union bargaining for about 70 officer layoffs, as directed by the council throughout 2020 price range changes.

However the mayor stays crucial of the layoffs, which she vetoed, however was overridden, and which aren’t accounted for in her 2021 price range plan.

“I assist [the $100 million] in precept,” Council President M. Lorena González stated. “What I’m involved about is funding selections being made in a vacuum by which we don’t acknowledge” requires divestment from “carceral and law-enforcement techniques.”

Totally different timelines

Throughout Thursday’s presentation, interim police Chief Adrian Diaz agreed that some duties now dealt with by officers with weapons might be dealt with by different professionals. Greater than half of the 911 calls that officers responded to final yr have been noncriminal in nature. The Durkan administration and a few council members nonetheless disagree concerning the timeline for such adjustments, nevertheless.

The mayor’s price range assumes that different 911 responses received’t be prepared on a big scale when 2021 begins and assumes that 1,400 officers can be wanted to keep up present service ranges till options are higher developed, Diaz stated.

Two interdepartmental groups inside the Durkan administration, established in an executive order Thursday, will work to “reimagine” community safety in Seattle and analyze the Police Division’s features, with a watch towards making extra adjustments in six months or a yr.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold says that’s too gradual, arguing Metropolis Corridor should use the 2021 price range to start out switching extra duties and {dollars} from the Police Division to group organizations. The council just lately appropriated $14 million to assist these organizations put together, Herbold famous.

“The place I’m listening to essentially the most disconnect is on timing and schedule,” she stated.

Neighborhood enter

King County Fairness Now, a Black-led group coalition that this summer season pushed for Police Division cuts, launched a project this week to attach peculiar Seattle residents with the Metropolis Corridor price range course of. The challenge is prone to obtain $3 million from the council, although the allocation should cross by way of a aggressive solicitation course of.

The mayor, in the meantime, is pulling collectively a task force of group leaders to interact residents concerning the $100 million for communities of colour and concern suggestions for a way the cash must be spent. In her plan, the precise appropriations wouldn’t be determined till subsequent spring.

The duty power, whose members Durkan has but to call, can be unbiased from the interdepartmental groups that the mayor has directed to work on group security and policing. However the three teams will alternate concepts, Senior Deputy Mayor Mike Fong instructed the council Thursday, amid some confusion.

A number of council members urged the Durkan administration to align the teams with King County Fairness Now’s “Black Brilliance” challenge. Councilmember Tammy Morales stated Metropolis Corridor should work to “keep away from any notion of an try and divide our neighbors.”

Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan stated she believed the mayor’s teams and King County Fairness Now’s challenge might work together with and complement one another.

“With this Government Order and actual group investments, we’re committing ourselves to a rigorous, clear, and community-led dialogue on problems with policing and group security,” Durkan stated in a information launch.

Some individuals lively with the coalition have already got declined to serve on Durkan’s process power, describing the panel as not really grassroots.

The coalition Decriminalize Seattle, which has partnered with King County Fairness Now on advocacy this yr, launched a statement Thursday calling the mayor’s govt order an “obstruction tactic” and energy play meant to delay main Police Division adjustments, preserve management and divert consideration from efforts to raise voices outdoors Metropolis Corridor.

“She insists on working the present,” the assertion stated of the mayor.

Digging into particulars

Council members will spend October delving into Durkan’s price range proposal, division by division. In November, they’ll hash out amendments.

The Parks Division would take a tough hit underneath the mayor’s plan, with most swimming swimming pools closed all through 2021, main park upkeep decreased and athletic-field renovations deferred. The Transportation Division additionally would postpone many tasks, together with bike and pedestrian enhancements.

Durkan’s plan would cancel raises deliberate for metropolis executives and strategic advisers; Councilmember Alex Pedersen stated Wednesday he want to additionally cancel or cut back $30 million in raises deliberate for different metropolis employees. The cash could be higher spent on different wants, Pedersen stated. However that transfer would require bargaining with varied unions, Noble stated.

The council has scheduled public hearings on the 2021 price range for Oct. 6 and Oct. 27.