All right, let’s get right to discussing today’s budget meeting. Here’s the link to the revised agenda, which includes links to documentation, and the relevant thread:
First, a list of new legislation discussed today that will be added to the introduction and referral calendar on Monday and receive a final vote at a later date.
- Legislation related to Amendment 26, disaggregating SPD precincts from Patrol Operations BSL. This re-establishes budget levels for each of the five precincts, giving the Council more granular financial data. This should have no trouble passing.
- Legislation related to Amendment 53 to transfer 911 Services from SPD to FAS. The main issue with this is that if the service is moved, it will need to be re-certified as a first responder. More research is needed on how long that would take, so it will be discussed again on Monday. Meanwhile CM Strauss is planning to introduce a different amendment, discussed further below, on Monday to provide another option.
- Legislation related to Amendment 32, adding $3m to the legislative department for community research, coming from the COVID relief bill. There are two pieces of legislation required to do this for technical reasons. This should also have no trouble.
- A draft interfund loan bill from the construction and inspections fund, to be repaid in 2021 with interest, for the, along with $13.1m portion. Nobody had objections about this either.
Next, a list of the amendments that passed today, with details on each.
- Amendment 33: adds $4m to HSD for SCS for scaling up gun-violence intervention and prevention, passed 9-0
- Amendment 34: invests $10m to scale up community organizations doing public safety work, passed 9-0
- Amendment 35: cuts $36k from SPD from implicit bias training (in the time of Covid some of these dollars aren’t necessary because of travel etc.), passed 9-0
- Amendment 37: cuts $800k from SPD’s recruitment and retention, passed 9-0
- The consent package: a package of 12 amendments (once 16 was removed for further discussion further down this list): 17-25 entailing provisos for reductions of different police department units; 46 requiring the Mayor’s office or SPD to submit a report on which police departments could be civilianized; 47 requiring fiscal reporting to the Council from the SPD every two weeks etc; and 49 cutting $50k from jail contracting services and moving it to be used to develop a new 911 response system in relationship with community, passed 9-0
- Amendment 45: add $80k to the New Deal Oversight Board by cutting $80k from the SPD’s patrol functions, passed 8-0 with CM Strauss abstaining
- Amendment 48a: reducing the 2020 pay (from Sept-Dec) of the 13 SPD command staff who aren’t unionized by a small amount, resulting in a potential $500k savings, passed 6-3 (Pedersen, Juarez, and Lewis voted no)
- Amendment 55: a proviso requiring the SPD to provide a monthly report with payment information of all employees paid more than $150k, increasing transparency, particularly about overtime, passed 9-0.
- Amendment 31: a proviso laying off all the sworn officers in the Navigation Team, passed 9-0
- Amendment 40: all the additional funding ($2.9m) for the Navigation Team cut (except for that in the Parks department used to pick up garbage) and used to pay for existing non-profits to do homelessness outreach and engagement. Vigorous debate on this one because businesses in the North Seattle districts are scared to not have a Navigation Team anymore. CM Herbold agreed the Navigation Team was a failed experiment. Passed 5/4 (Pedersen, Juarez, Lewis, and Strauss voted no)
- Amendment 16: proviso stating the Council’s intent to reduce the police force by 32 FTEs. CM Pedersen mentioned he’s received 35,000 emails about police accountability from Seattle residents and wanted to explain to his constituents why he’s supporting this. Passed 9/0.
- Amendment 27 (part of a different bill but still part of this conversation): transfers victim advocates and the victim support team from SPD to HSD, passed 9-0.
Now a list of amendments that are still to be discussed, either on Monday or another time.
- CM Strauss’s proviso removing sworn officers from overseeing the 911 dispatch so it can stay in SPD until they have a final decision about where to move it, along with information on receiving first responder certification relevant to today’s legislation to move the dispatch.
- Amendment 52: proviso prohibiting SPD from spending funds to prosecute individuals for participating in Justice for George Floyd protests. There was a long conversation on this one, along with confusion about how to read it. They’ll work on it some more, then revisit it on Monday.
- Some technical amendments to make sure everything works together correctly
- ??? There could be a few additional amendments based on ongoing conversations.
- Also still needing to be discussed is CM Lewis’s resolution stating the Council’s intent to create a public safety department and providing a time frame for their future work on reimagining public safety.
As you can tell from above, the City Council was widely in agreement on most of the amendments before them. The only two amendments that received real pushback and still passed were the ones regarding lowering SPD command staff pay for the rest of the year and defunding the civilian HSD side of the Navigation Team. Sawant’s amendments implementing a greater immediate defund of the SPD failed to pass, with no other council member voting in favor.
The goal is to finish discussing, voting on amendments, and cleaning everything up on the morning of Monday August 10th, followed by moving this budget bill out of committee. Then the Council will vote on the complete budget bill (excepting the new legislation in the first list above) in Full Council in the afternoon. I believe this full bill needs to be passed by a 3/4 vote since it increases appropriations, which would then be automatically veto-proof assuming nobody changed their mind. I do think it has a good chance of passing; overall the Council seems committed to working together on this effort.
The budget meeting on Monday will immediately follow the Council briefing, so should start around 10am, and there will be an opportunity for public comment both at 10am (signups at 8am) and 2pm (signups at noon) at the full Council meeting. There will be a special meeting on Wednesday August 12 (I think at 2pm) to discuss the vetoed COVID relief act and possibly vote on the new legislation from the first list above.
There’s a lot of hard work in front of us, but today was another step forward.