Category Archives: budget

This week in Council Chambers

It’s all about the budget this week.

Monday morning’s Council Briefing has no special presentations, but the Council will hold another executive session with city attorneys to discuss litigation-related issues.

Monday afternoon’s full City Council meeting includes final votes on the following pieces of legislation:

  • confirmation of the appointment of Debra Smith as CEO of Seattle City Light;
  • a resolution updating the city’s policies for disposal of surplus property, making it easier to direct it towards affordable-housing projects;
  • three items related to Seattle Public Utilities: approval of drainage and wastewater rate changes, and approval of the 2019 Water System Plan;
  • An ordinance requiring certain employers to provide pre-tax commuter benefits to their employers;
  • a long list of appointments to boards and commissions.

This week’s Introduction and Referral Calendar has no new items of legislation other than the regular weekly bill-paying ordinance.

Wednesday will be another full day of Budget Committee meetings. The exact schedule of presentations has not yet been published.

Thursday evening at 5:30pm there will be a public hearing on the 2019-2020 budget in Council Chambers at City Hall. This is the first of two evening public hearings where Seattle residents are encouraged to give the Council their thoughts on the budget.


SPD still wrestling with overtime spending – and the Seattle IT department

This morning the City Council revisited a recurring pain point: the Seattle Police Department’s inability to stay within budget on its overtime expenses.

The issues with how the Seattle Police Department manages overtime for its officers go back for years, if not decades, but they came under particular scrutiny starting in October 2014 when then-Chief Kathleen O’Toole requested an audit of the department’s overtime practices.  It took the City Auditor 18 months to issue the audit report; in the intervening time the City Budget Office and the City Council became acutely aware of the budget pain inflicted when SPD’s overtime expenses went deep into the red.

After the audit report was released in April 2016 and the Council was briefed, the City Council passed a resolution requesting quarterly reports through the end of 2017 from SPD on its progress in addressing the recommendations from the Auditor to get its overtime practices under control. Those reports showed some progress, but not enough to satisfy the Council that the issues had been resolved, so last fall the Council requested an interdepartmental team be convened to:

  1. Comprehensively describe SPD’s overtime policies and practices in relation to the findings and recommendations in the 2016 Office of City Auditor report on SPD overtime controls;
  2. Identify the sources and root causes of the historical gap between SPD budgeted and actual overtime spending (overexpenditure gap) that accounts for factors such as service level needs, staffing levels, population growth, any shifts in systemic practices, and historical events, and that seeks to distinguish between legitimate overtime needs and unnecessary overtime;
  3. Evaluate best practices in overtime across the country that may inform SPD’s systems; and
  4. Issue recommendations on (a) the most impactful strategies to reduce the overexpenditure gap and (b) strategic approaches to overtime budgeting and budget requests (supplemental and fall budgets) that will give Council a meaningful opportunity to review and approve or disapprove of anticipated overtime expenditures.

This morning, that workgroup delivered its response to the Council.

Continue reading SPD still wrestling with overtime spending – and the Seattle IT department