What to expect on Wednesday when the Council votes on SPD-related budget amendments (UPDATED)

Since Monday the City Council has reworked its list of three dozen proposed budget amendments related to the Seattle Police Department. Here’s what to expect when they take them up for votes on Wednesday morning.

(update below)


As expected, Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda has bundled together thirteen amendments that have broad Council support into a “consensus package” that the Council members can approve in a single vote. It includes (from the full set of amendments proposed earlier):

  • a general reduction of about 32 SPD positions (amendment 16);
  • elimination of the mounted unit (amendment 17);
  • reduction to the community outreach group (amendment 18);
  • elimination of the school resource officer program (amendment 19);
  • reducing sworn officers by another 30 positions through “unplanned attrition” (amendment 20);
  • reduction of the public affairs unit (amendment 21);
  • reduction in the misnamed “homeland security” catch-all budget  (amendment 22);
  • eliminating the Community Outreach Administration headcount (amendment 23);
  • reduction in the Harbor Patrol (amendment 24);
  • reduction in the SWAT Team (amendment 25);
  • a proviso requiring the Mayor to report on potential civilianization of other units in SPD (amendment 46);
  • a proviso requiring SPD to deliver fiscal reports every two weeks (amendment 47);
  • $50,000 for a contract to develop a “911 response alternative” (amendment 49).

Mosqueda will give her colleagues the opportunity to pull any individual items out of the consent package for separate consideration, then they will approve the rest with one vote followed by discussion and votes on any that were removed from the consent package.

Next they will probably deal with the package of $17 million of funding for community-led programs that the Council discussed on Monday: $4 million for HSD’s Community Safety Initiative, $3 million for community-led research, and $10 million for capacity building in community-led organizations. The original plan funded it with the last $12.8 million from the city’s “rainy day” fund, a reduction of $3.3 million in administrative overhead spending in the COVID-19 relief ordinance, and a handful of other small cuts.  The new plan leaves the rainy day fund alone and instead borrows $13.1 million in an interfund loan from the city’s Construction and Inspections Fund. The money would be repaid either with anticipated payroll savings in 2021 from the SPD headcount cuts, or with revenues from the recently-passed payroll tax.

That leaves several standalone amendments from Council member Sawant to be voted on:

  • cutting $80,000 from SPD and moving it to the Office of Sustainability and Environment to staff the Green New Deal Oversight Board (amendment 45);
  • capping SPD compensation at $150,000 (amendment 48);
  • a proviso prohibiting SPD from assisting the prosecution of protesters at recent demonstrations (amendment 52).
  • (UPDATE) cutting 14 SPD sworn-officer positions from the Navigation Team (amendment 31), and redirecting the HSD and FAS portions of the Navigation Team budget ($2.1 million) to homelessness outreach and engagement (amendment 40).

Sawant has also offered two alternate versions of an amendment she originally proposed to bring the SPD cut up to 50%. The first (amendment 54a) cuts $54 million and directs portions to SDCI for eviction  defense and tenant outreach; $15.5 million to HSD to support restorative justice, youth empowerment, and pre-filling diversion programs; $3 million to support the community-led research otherwise covered in the $17 million package above; and $34.7 million to the Office of Housing for affordable housing investments.  The second (amendment 54b) cuts $21.7 million and directs it to the Office of Housing for affordable housing investments.

A couple of the amendments that were discussed earlier this week have been turned into separate ordinances because implementing them requires legislative action:

  • dis-aggregating the five SPD precincts in the SPD budget (formerly Amendment 26);
  • transferring the 911 call center from the Seattle Police Department to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services (formerly amendment 53).

A handful of amendments seemed to have not moved forward — though they still might be revived at the last minute tomorrow. The most obvious omission is the proposal to gut the Navigation Team, which seemed to have a fair amount of support on Monday. The proposals to transfer SPD’s victim advocates group to SPD, and to transfer the data-analysis team to FAS have also disappeared, at least for the moment.


It’s going to be a long day. Expect a long public comment session, lots of speeches, a handful of last-minute amendments to amendments, some hastily-crafted wordsmithing on the fly that will leave everyone confused about what exactly they are voting for, and nine very cranky Council members by the end of the day.

Assuming they get through all the amendments on Wednesday (they likely will), their staff will take the following few days to tie up loose ends and prepare the entire budget package to be voted out of committee next Monday morning. The Council will then give its final approval on Monday afternoon at the full City Council meeting.

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