Council struggles with proposed SPD budget cut

Usually when the City Council gives itself sufficient time to research and deliberate on policy questions, the issues eventually become clear and in many cases work themselves out. But in the current case of a proposed $5.4 million cut to the Seattle Police Department budget, things have become messier as the weeks and months have passed. The path forward is now murky, and the Councilmembers are deeply divided on what action to take.

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City budget office updates its economic and revenue forecast, and City Hall misses the message

The City Budget Office delivers an economic and revenue forecast to the Mayor and City Council three times a year: in August, at the beginning of the annual budget process; in November, for a last-minute budget update before it’s passed; and in April as a check-in to see how things are going. Today City Budget Director Ben Noble delivered the April update, which he will present in person to the City Council’s Finance and Housing Committee tomorrow. The Mayor and two Councilmembers immediately issued press releases remarking positively on the economic recovery, highlighting $40 million in additional revenues, and salivating …

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Audit on SDOT’s bridge maintenance finds program vastly underfunded, lack of strategic plan

Two weeks ago the City Auditor released a report on vehicle bridge maintenance in Seattle. The report, which was commissioned by Council member Alex Pedersen following the closure of the West Seattle Bridge earlier this year, highlights a point SCC insight reported earlier this year: that SDOT’s bridge maintenance budget is only a fraction of the recommended amount. However, the Auditor cautions that before the Mayor and City Council try to increase the budget, SDOT needs to get its house in order to make sure that the money is well-spent and the work is done well.

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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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