Chair Committed to Transparent, Accountable Budget Process that includes correcting misinformation
Seattle, WA — Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Pos. 8 – Citywide), Chair of the Select Budget Committee, spoke today during Council Briefing to clarify misinformation published by The Seattle Times editorial board about engagement with the Federal Court Monitor Central, following a Central Staff Presentation last Friday to correct misrepresentations of investments Seattle Police Department (SPD) proposed in 2022.
“The Editorial Board failed to recognize – or properly characterize – both the Monitor’s statement at the time of deliberations, or take into account the feedback incorporated into the proposed 2022 budget. The budget items that the Monitor flagged as necessary to be in compliance with the Consent Decree are funded in my proposed balancing package. The meeting with the Monitor occurred with Central Staff at Councilmembers’ request on November 1, the Monitor’s feedback was received on November 8, and edits were incorporated prior to publication on November 9 to be responsive to the Monitor’s feedback. Misinformation and accusations by the Seattle Times Editorial Board are corrected for in this timeline summarizing interactions with the Court Monitor,” Mosqueda clarified.
“Council has benefitted in the past from our collaboration with Monitor Oftelie towards our shared goal that budget and policy decisions made by the Council keep us in compliance with the Consent Decree,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park). “As Council’s Public Safety and Human Services committee chair, I am grateful that Budget Chair Mosqueda included funding for technology investments associated with Consent Decree compliance, as requested by Monitor Oftelie.”
Furthermore, Central Staff clarified during the Select Budget Committee meeting last Friday that claiming that a reduction to an increase is a cut is just not accurate. As summarized by the nonpartisan Central Staff – there are no cuts to current SPD staffing, nor are there cuts to SPD officers in the Chair’s Balancing Package. As described in committee last week, the Mayor’s proposed budget included approximately $19M in salary savings that would not be needed for 134 FTEs (approximately $17 million from those vacant positions and an additional $2 million added by the Mayor’s budget). The proposed budget included $6.8 million in new investments for SPD, including increasing investments for overtime, technology and training, and with the remaining available resources we have invested in gun violence prevention, mental health crisis response units, law enforcement diversion programs and community public safety investments.
The Mayor’s approach required Council and Central Staff to grapple with a budget that was appropriating nearly $19M of salary funding for officers that would not be needed, because there are not officers there to take the salaries — and that is in the proposed budget — but is instead being redirected other places. The city normally operates under a process known as incremental budgeting, whereby salary funding that may no longer be needed for the purpose it was intended, might normally be reduced and taken back to the General Fund, and if a new item was needed they could be re-examined as distinct policy choices — such as items that are on that list. But that is not how the Mayor wrote this budget, nor how it was presented to this Council. Instead, she retained approximately $19M in savings in SPD, and redirected that savings to these items, so when Council received the budget and decided to reduce these increased items, it appears as though Council is making a cut. And that is not a fair way to portray it — if indeed these were proposed as new, distinct items to consider, Could would be rejecting new items — which is more true than the case that the Council is cutting the SPD base budget.
The Chair’s Balancing Package specific to SPD includes:
- No cuts to current SPD Staffing – no cuts to SPD Officers in the Proposed Budget
- Fully funds the hiring plan for SPD – adding 125 new officers in 2022
- Fully funds the current and recently expanded Community Safety Officer units (CSOs)
- Adds $3.8 million for NEW technology – importantly, the IT systems that the Federal Court Monitor has flagged as prudent are included in the budget without proviso
- Adds $4.6 million in overtime totaling $26.4 million for the year for OT
- Maintains $4.1 million in for discretionary purposes above the current budget
- Maintains $925,000 for travel and training above the current budget
- Maintains $750,000 for officer wellness and supervision to support retention, and $218,000 to accelerate the hiring process for both sworn and civilian positions and support recruitment
Additionally, the following public safety strategies are included in Chair’s Balancing Package – totalling near $27 million for community safety and stability:
- 26 positions to the CSCC to address the CSCC’s 911 existing dispatch operational needs
- $4 million for the Seattle Community Safety Initiative to address gun violence
- $500,000 to HSD for restorative justice programs
- $3.5 million for LEAD – law enforcement diversion
- $2.5 million to expand mobile mental and behavioral health crisis services
- $1.5 million for mobile advocacy services with flexible financial assistance for survivors of gender-based violence
- $1 million for expanding mental and behavioral health (half going to school-based care)
- $1.5 million for SFD for 20 additional firefighter recruits
- Over $1 million to create the Triage One triage team
- Fully funds the three Health One operational teams
- Among many other items – more information can be found here.
“As Budget Chair, I am committed to a transparent and accountable budgeting process and endeavor to ensure all stakeholders have access to accurate information. I am committed to clearing up misinformation, misrepresentation or accusations so that members of the community know the truth about the investments and strategies under consideration. While there may be differences of opinion on investment strategies, it’s critical to have an informed discussion about how scarce resources in 2022 are deployed,” said Chair Mosqueda. “Just last month, we saw a decrease in 2022 projected revenue which meant all departments saw a change in the proposed investments relative to the Mayor’s proposed budget so that Council could respond to the tremendous need for food and shelter, violence reduction and survivor assistance, mental health and law enforcement diversion assistance, among many other investments. In the midst of this pandemic, any dollar that could be used in 2022 for direct assistance to families and individuals in need that would otherwise go unused was redeployed to help create stability, safety and care,” concluded Mosqueda.
The Council is scheduled to take votes on amendments Thursday and Friday, November 18th and 19th where some of these investments may change. Final action on the budget in committee and full council is scheduled for next Monday, November 22, 2021.