Understanding the Seattle Police Department Budget

The past month has brought calls for dramatic reductions to police departments budgets, including here in Seattle. In order to make sense of those demands, it’s important for us to understand how police departments request and spend their budgets. Here is a deep dive of the SPD budget, with a historical perspective, breakdowns from a number of different angles, a look at Mayor Durkan’s proposed 2020 cuts (as well as her early thoughts on next year’s budget), and some of the principles behinds calls to “defund the police.”

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Grim news on the city budget as revenue projections fall short

This afternoon Mayor Durkan and City Budget Director Ben Noble briefed the press on the city’s new projections for how the COVID-19 shutdown is affecting city revenues. This comes on the eve of a presentation to the City Council tomorrow morning on the same information as the Council begins considering a new $500 million payroll tax. Under their most likely scenario, revenues will fall around $210 million below budget. But in a more pessimistic outcome, the shortfall could increase to almost $300 million. Let’s dive into the details.

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Bagshaw unveils budget balancing package

This morning Budget Chair Sally Bagshaw published her initial balancing package, incorporating a portfolio of self-balancing changes to the Mayor’s proposed budget based on last week’s proposals by Council members that received consensus support. Last’s night’s election results show that Initiative 976 will likely pass; it will blow a $35 million hole in the city budget that will need to get addressed in the next three weeks, making the initial balancing package very much a work in progress. That said, anything that didn’t make it in at this point is very unlikely to find its way in later as the …

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2020 city revenues update delivers little good news

With the “Form B” budget discussions now complete, Council member Sally Bagshaw, the budget chair, is hard at work assembling her initial “balancing package” of changes to the Mayor’s proposed budget. Her job is to cram as many of the Council’s wish-list items in, to match whatever additional revenues she can scrape together. The final piece of the puzzle is an updated projection from the City Budget Office on 2019 and 2020 revenues, which was delivered at the end of the week. Usually it delivers at least a few million dollars of extra revenues to spend; this year, not so …

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