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Seattle Budget Amendments
This week the Seattle City Council met for three full days of meetings to discuss their proposed amendments to the 2022 budget.
The next chance to give public testimony is at the public hearing at 5:30pm on Wednesday, November 10, which is also the day when the Council will release their draft budget. The next budget meeting will be on Friday, November 12, when the balancing package/draft budget will be presented.
Public Safety Amendments
Good afternoon, and welcome to Seattle’s Select Budget Committee meeting! They are behind on the agenda and are starting Parks and Recreation. If they don’t finish everything today, they’ll do so tomorrow morning.
Yesterday council members introduced amendments to carve off small pieces of SPD’s budget. CP Gonzáles introduced two amendments, one very similar to one from last year that sets a proviso on $5m on potential salary savings and another that sets a proviso on $2.5m of technology projects until more information about those projects is provided. Meanwhile, CM Herbold proposed amendments to proviso $200k from the CSO program, given that it will take some months to hire the new unit, and to cut $1.09m from SPD for hiring incentives, instead holding that money until a report can be done on potentially implementing a city-wide hiring incentive program. She also proposed an amendment to make several small cuts to various areas of the SPD budget, for a total cut of $4.53m.
CP González and CM Herbold also addressed the City Attorney’s Office budget, with CP González introducing an amendment to proviso $1.8m within the City Attorney’s Office for diversion programs (a nod to the possibility that Ann Davison might win the upcoming election and need encouragement to continue the department’s diversion activities). CM Herbold had an amendment adding $267k to fully staff and expand the pre-filing diversion program. (She also had an amendment in the HSD section to add $750k for at least 5 community-based organizations for that side of the diversion program.) Herbold also wants to add money to the CSCC to hire additional 911 dispatchers.
CP González submitted a SLI for a report from the City Budget Office on the CSO program. CM Strauss spoke strongly in support of the CSO program, but added that he believes the CSOs should be housed in the CSCC rather than SPD, and that he has reservations about expanding that program until it has been moved. There was also money allocated to expand the fire department’s Health One program to include a fourth van.
Finally, CM Pedersen had a SLI requesting a report on models, costs, and timelines for a citywide 24/7 mental/behavioral health response. CM Herbold spoke about how much of this work is already been done, and then the following day several proposals were made for services in just this vein.
Human Services Department Amendments
Welcome to Seattle’s Select Budget Committee meeting! We’re in the middle of the HSD section and have made it to the public safety and criminal legal system section of amendments.
Interesting amendments discussed this afternoon during the HSD portion of budget talks included several investments in emergency response. CM Lewis proposed $3.1m for a pilot program for a contracted provider-based low-acuity 911 emergency response. He mentioned wariness towards the idea of having only uniformed government first response in Seattle. CM Herbold proposed $14.6m to expand LEAD so they could serve everyone eligible for their services. And together, CM Strauss and CM Herbold proposed $32m for capital expenses in creating a new voluntary crisis stabilization center in partnership with the County and $13.9m to expand the behavioral health crisis system, including with operational support for the new center. CM Strauss says his amendment would provide the City with 24/7 city-wide mental health response. He hopes this service (and CM Lewis’s new pilot too) will be hardwired into 911. He also stated strongly that this amendment is his highest priority in this budget cycle.
Smaller investments discussed included $4m for the Seattle Community Safety Initiative (the community hubs), $2m for restorative justice programs, and $1.5m to expand behavioral health services for the Duwamish Tribe.