UPDATE: City Council finalizes cuts for this year’s budget, affecting SPD and more

(Archived video of morning Budget Committee meeting)
10:38 AM: The Seattle City Council has just reconvened as the Select Budget Committee, continuing their consideration of cuts to departments including SPD. The agenda is here, including details of what’s up for discussion/voting. The briefing meeting earlier this morning hinted at some changes to their proposals; also of note, the mayor’s office announced this morning that a new forecast predicts a worse budget crunch than previously predicted. You can watch via Seattle Channel‘s livestream above. The meeting is starting with public comment.

1:30 PM: The Budget Committee meeting has adjourned; the council is scheduled to reconvene at 2 pm for the regular weekly meeting, which will include some final votes.

2:04 PM: They’ve pushed back that start time so their staff can complete all the paperwork from the amendment votes in the budget meeting – they’re now set to restart at 2:45 pm.

5:32 PM: They’ve finished the vote that included SPD cuts. You’ll see a lot of reactions, so there’s a separate followup ahead, but one big thing of note: The council did NOT vote to “defund” SPD by anything in the vicinity of 50 percent. The cuts they approved, for SPD and other departments, are for the rest of this year, with next year’s budget-planning process beginning in a matter of weeks. They approved some SPD cuts that would total about 100 of 1,400 positions (including 30 expected to be lost by attrition) – here’s a summary from a news release sent by Council President Lorena González’s office:

Cuts include:

Cut 32 officers from patrol – $533,000
Reduced specialized units including officers assigned to mounted unit, school resource officers, homeland security, harbor patrol, SWAT team – $250,000
Removed officers from Navigation Team, ensuring homeless neighbors are not retraumatized by armed patrol officers – $216,000
Reduced staff budget through recognizing expected attrition – $500,000
Reduced administrative costs, including salaries, community outreach, public affairs
Cut $56,000 from training and travel expenses
Cut recruitment and retention – $800,000
Transferred victim advocates from SPD to Human Services Department – $377,000 impact
Removed two sworn officer positions from the 911 Emergency Call Center

But the council also acknowledged that the authority to decide what and who to cut rests with Police Chief Carmen Best, so their stipulations are more a request than an order. They also voted to start exploring creation of a Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention (the same name Minneapolis has looked at for something more sweeping) to handle functions that could be moved from SPD in the future.

76 Replies to "UPDATE: City Council finalizes cuts for this year's budget, affecting SPD and more"

  • SK August 10, 2020 (10:54 am)

    This is the most one sided public meeting I have ever heard. The council are screening public calls and only playing defund police. 

    • WSB August 10, 2020 (11:42 am)

      As noted in another thread, people signing up are not asked what they plan to say.

    • Mark August 10, 2020 (12:47 pm)

      The Defund supporters are much more organized than the opposition, you can bet they had hundreds of people lined up and ready to go as soon they could sign up to speak. 

      • LMAO August 10, 2020 (3:37 pm)

        Mark and others,If you care so much about this issue – more than whining in the Comments section of a local news blog – you know what you can do? You can organize too, and get those hundreds of people lined up and ready to go as soon as signups open.  That’s kind of how politics works.

    • Medium August 10, 2020 (2:01 pm)

      It always is one sided. The silent majority might not really exist. These loud radicals will win and Seattle will be destroyed. 

  • West Seattle Hipster August 10, 2020 (11:16 am)

    Due to obvious declining tax revenues, expect significant cuts in the next budget, and not just to SPD.   This will be a time for our city to exercise fiscal restraint and be very prudent in spending our money.  

    • uncle loco August 10, 2020 (1:05 pm)

      If you think the defunding movement is about fiscal responsibility I’d encourage you do do some research.

      • West Seattle Hipster August 10, 2020 (1:39 pm)

        My comment had nothing to do with the movement, but with the economic climate that all of us will soon experience.  Tax revenues are significantly down, so expect many services to be underfunded.  It will be rough.

        • Bray August 10, 2020 (5:22 pm)

          I believe there is a Doctorate of Economics on the Council. You’d think she could have been fiscally managing a Can’t Last Forever approach the last several years. I suppose her ace in the hole has and always will be Jeff Bezos but that ship might be sailing. 

      • AMD August 10, 2020 (4:48 pm)

        That may not have started the conversation, but there are plenty of people who are pro-“defund” simply because we feel like Public Safety should be subject to the same level of budget scrutiny and oversight as every other city department.  Casting the discussion as if there are only two points of view is not helpful.

        • Winston Smith August 10, 2020 (5:28 pm)

          Couldn’t agree more, AMD. I’m not in favor of defunding the police without a solid plan in place but I’m glad you pointed out that being pro or anti defund does not put you in one of two boxes. 😉

          • kw August 11, 2020 (12:02 am)

            Yes, thank you for stating the fact that many people who want to see policing drastically change are in either camp… it is not that simple. 

        • Thomas Wood August 10, 2020 (5:42 pm)

          Like the Council?

  • kram August 10, 2020 (11:36 am)

    I love it when our city makes decisions without a well thought out and ready to execute plan. I’m sure this will go off without any issues. (Sarcasm) As a parent this whole thing reminds me of buying candy for your kid too stop them from having a temper tantrum. Meanwhile gun sales are soaring….

  • TM7302 August 10, 2020 (12:01 pm)

    Herbold walking back her salary cap for Chief Best… states she didn’t have all the info.  I guess she realized she was cutting the salary of a black executive managing the largest department in Seattle was hypocritical…

    • Medium August 10, 2020 (2:04 pm)

      Amazing the thoughtless knee-jerk reactions back and forth. Add police to reduce police in less than a year. Not Covid related or we would be talking about the fire department, parks department, etc.

    • Mark B August 10, 2020 (2:17 pm)

      Casting a vote without having all of the info is irresponsible and reactionary. Either it’s a vendetta against Best, or it’s short-sighted as they’ve now capped the salary for any future hires into the position.  If the cap goes through, the position will pay less than Chief positions in Tacoma or Spokane. Good luck recruiting a replacement. 

  • Joel August 10, 2020 (12:27 pm)

    wow – so herbold votes to cut Best’s pay and know says she doesn’t know it’ll make her one of the lowest paid department heads with the biggest department….herbold is so unprepared…just voting for whatever the people knocking on her door at 10 pm demand.  then she and others ran for election on adding more police….with no middle ground people like herbold, sawant etc force many to go to trump, culp etc.

  • TM7302 August 10, 2020 (12:28 pm)

    Will the Council pass legislation to report on all lawsuits brought by constituents against the city?  

  • Cut August 10, 2020 (1:16 pm)

    Just cut their 6figures support staff…

  • Bradley August 10, 2020 (1:22 pm)

    Our District Councilmember in action:  who is Lisa listening to?

    “Some council members are trying to revisit Chief Best’s salary cut now. CM Herbold said she made an error by voting in favor of the massive salary cut, not knowing that would make Best the second-lowest paid department head in the city despite overseeing largest agency.”

  • anonyme August 10, 2020 (1:50 pm)

    Who gets to vote on Lisa’s salary?  Defund Lisa.  I find it appalling that she gets to vote on stripping compensation from anyone, much less a department head with far more responsibility than she herself could ever handle.  What a freakshow, and all at the expense of Seattle voters who currently have no say in this debacle.

  • TM7302 August 10, 2020 (2:20 pm)

    I wonder if the council is considering reducing their $16 million dollar budget accordingly?

  • Neighbor August 10, 2020 (2:50 pm)

    While I’m glad that Herbold acknowledged her error, it’s rather appalling that she voted on it without looking into that in the first place. If you’re unable to make an informed decision then you shouldn’t be voting on it. That’s a frighteningly haphazard way to govern, and seems all too common for our council.(TL;DR- Slow the truck down and get it right. That’s your job.)

  • High Point August 10, 2020 (2:53 pm)

    None of this is being done with any modicum of common sense or quantitative data. As yesterday’s rally at City Hall demonstrated, there is a large portion of the City asking for restraint in cutting salaries, whole department sections and head count of uniformed officers. SPD does have support in the community.  I think the fact that Lisa Herbold has no idea of the ramifications on what she is voting for speaks volumes. Begs the question, ‘who’s on first’?

  • overthehill August 10, 2020 (3:03 pm)

    I often ask myself, why there aren’t more intelligent and experienced people on the council. And then I think, oh yeah, nobody like that would want the job.

  • ScubaFrog August 10, 2020 (4:10 pm)

    This is really going to be a big mistake to defund the SPD by 50, FIFTY %.  You take a number like that, and work with the SPD behind closed doors in negotiations.  You don’t just throw a random (extreme) number like that  out there, and say BAM!  That’s IT!  Meet with the SPD?  “Psh, yah right!” Say the Council.  This will cost SPD officers’ jobs, and that was never part of the bargain.   Don’t do it Council, there’s plenty of time to refine numbers and come at this not from a reactionary angle, but from a point of logic, rational and intellectual thought that will justify your hopefully (much more reasonable numbers).

    • WSB August 10, 2020 (4:58 pm)

      As noted upthread, what they are voting on is nowhere near 50 percent. Not even 5 percent. But that’s this year – next year’s talks have not yet begun.

  • Jonah August 10, 2020 (4:30 pm)

    Just heard on KOMO that the homeless navigation team will be disbanded and that the city council has NO REPLACEMENT for them. My guess is that they have NO replacement for any SPD function they are trying to get rid of. 

  • JKK August 10, 2020 (4:35 pm)

    Anyone that thinks sits a good idea to “defund” police is in favor of anarchy.   I hope that none of these protesters that are wanting to defund the police ever get their car stolen or their home broken into or someone in their family gets hurt and needs to make a police report.   They will be waiting a very long time to do so as there will be less police to go around.  One day these people will need the police.  And oh what a double standard that will be.   I can’t wait to see the karma.  

    • neighbor August 11, 2020 (5:56 am)

      Yeah, but those reported earnings include back pay and overtime dating back to 2015. The overtime alone is huge, mostly because they’re not adequately staffed. Perhaps if some responsibilities are shifted away from the police then their staffing levels might actually be ok, but reducing headcount when you already have that much overtime is just ridiculous.

  • Dale August 10, 2020 (5:27 pm)

    The mounted patrol horses are currently stabled at Westcrest Park.  Their website reports seven horses.  Seven Seattle City Council people caused this abomination to be veto proof.  It seems most or all of them own at least one house with a yard.  I’m assuming they would all agree to adopt one horse each.  Horse sense.

  • Bradley August 10, 2020 (5:48 pm)

    • WSB August 10, 2020 (5:51 pm)

      That’s from the same news release I excerpted above in text (which has more details), from CM González’s office.

  • TM7302 August 10, 2020 (6:34 pm)

    The Seattle Times, back on July 9, reported that 7 of 9 council members support a 50% cut to police funding.  This council is laying the groundwork for upcoming 2021 budget, testing the waters so to speak.  Wasn’t it just last year that the council was saying Seattle didn’t have enough officers or the funding to recruit and retain them?  Just goes to show what you can leverage if you hold part of the city hostage.   https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/majority-of-seattle-council-pledges-to-support-police-department-defunding-plan-laid-out-by-advocates/

  • Doug August 10, 2020 (6:50 pm)

    Here’s where we start: Recall Herbold.She has already voted to hurt our West Seattle businesses. And now her votes will take away our SW police precinct and cops on the street.Enough is enough. 

    • WSB August 10, 2020 (7:10 pm)

      Another clarification, the precinct is not in jeopardy. Two reasons: 1. the city charter, 2. her amendment to break out individual precinct funding from the “patrol operations” line into which the department had been recently consolidated.

    • TreeHouse August 10, 2020 (7:45 pm)

      The scare tactics and misinformation you are perpetuating here is wild. It’s sad that politics have come to this point after the Trump presidency.But speaking of recalls, I’ll happily sign the recall Durkan petition if someone comes to my front door!

      • Doug August 10, 2020 (8:48 pm)

        So what do you have to say about Chief Best resigning? 

      • Sixbuck August 10, 2020 (11:43 pm)

        How in the holy hell does this have anything to do with Trump?  Get real…

  • WTF August 10, 2020 (7:25 pm)

    They may have not gutted by 50% but make NO mistake, this smaller amount this year, will be much bigger next year. And if you think this budget cutting process in the name of BLM isn’t going to cost us more money, you are sadly mistaken. They will be back with their hand out…it is the socialist thing to do. The criminals have already started sending out the party invitations. Herbold is a dimwit, who doesn’t do her research and makes lemming-like decisions. Chief Best is a 28 year veteran the Seattle Police Dept. and a Masters educated woman of color. She EARNED her salary and to even think, let alone bring that to the table is insulting and disgusting. An action that WILL be remembered on voting day.

    • Will August 10, 2020 (10:11 pm)

      Well said WTF. Well said. 

  • Bradley August 10, 2020 (8:26 pm)

    Apparently the Council appreciates Bingo with callouts during session (per President González) Here’s the card if you want to play along:

    • WSB August 10, 2020 (10:23 pm)

      Finally sourced that. Created by Nathalie at The Stranger.

    • Sillygoose August 11, 2020 (8:40 am)

      I KNOW the majority of the time they didn’t even know what amendment they were voting on, SAWANT kept interrupting because you know she is so damn important, these people are deciding on the future of our city and they cant even hire a baby sitter!!  Come on what a joke panel of people who are abusing their positions of power with our tax dollars.  DEFUND CITY COUNCIL!!

  • NoRespect August 10, 2020 (8:52 pm)

    Say what you will about SPD, to make such changes without even inviting Chief Best to the table is irresponsible. Not surprised she is leaving the department. There were some serious mistakes made during the protests but not even having a conversation with her about moving forward shows a real disrespect, especially for an African-American woman who has served this department for more than 26 years. Even if you don’t agree with her, cutting her salary to below that of her previous position just makes this feel petty and personal. I was once on the side of the Council but these extreme tactics do not reflect the will of the voter or a thoughtful step forward for the city. I’m embarrassed that we’re stuck with Lisa Herbold whose quote today sums all of this up “You have to think beyond what is realistic.” Actually you get to think that way, the rest of us will be stuck with the reality of your reckless actions. Truly shameful.

    • ScubaFrog August 10, 2020 (11:52 pm)

      100% Spot-on.

  • Buddy August 10, 2020 (9:08 pm)

    Carmen Best just resigned.  

  • OMG August 10, 2020 (10:00 pm)

    Well the council has driven out one of the few voicing reason.  Can’t  blame her, but wished she would of forced the council to fire her rather then quitting.  Now the council will hire/ promote a yes man to fill her job. The future for Seattle just keeps getting bleaker.

    • WSB August 10, 2020 (10:17 pm)

      Hiring/firing is up to the mayor. A permanent hire would then have to be confirmed by the council.

  • EN August 10, 2020 (10:15 pm)

    Time to vote the city council out.

  • Lisa August 10, 2020 (11:11 pm)

    Surely Chief Best’s resignation isn’t a surprise to anyone. I think it’s really sad but she was left no choice. This had to be what the council was aiming for.

    • Canton August 10, 2020 (11:51 pm)

      And possibly the mayor, who wouldn’t initially consider her as a finalist, until outside pressure mounted. It is messed up, as Best had the support of the dept. and the community. She can land a job anywhere. Her exit has already defunded the dept. 50%. We’ll see…reap what ya sow.

  • Ws for life August 11, 2020 (12:48 am)

    Lisa Herbold and the rest of council all need to go… far, far away. 

  • Donita August 11, 2020 (2:05 am)

    I was proud to live in one of the few American cities with a Black woman police chief. How did the vote to cut her salary make us safer, or wiser, or better? This was not a rational act of thoughtful restructuring. This was an impulsive decision to punish, that solved nothing. What an embarrassment for Seattle, and what a loss. We are diminished by the short-sighted pettiness of this council. Chief Best, thank  you for your service.  Councilmember Herbold, you’ve lost my vote for good. 

    • Runner August 11, 2020 (7:33 am)

      I second that!

    • Mark B August 11, 2020 (9:12 am)

      100%, Donita. Casting a vote that constituents disagree with is part of the job. But admitting to casting a vote without having all the facts – when you have a staff of what, four? – is irresponsible. She’s lost our votes too. 

      • Peter S. August 11, 2020 (10:15 am)

        @Mark B:  I would slightly amend that.  Casting a vote that *some* constituents disagree with is part of the job.  Casting an uninformed  vote that reflects only what the noisiest and most vocal constituents want makes  you unfit for leadership position.

    • MrsT August 11, 2020 (10:10 am)

      I was also proud to live in a city with a black female police chief. I believed that she would act with integrity. Then she made the decision to gas us. (With the very same gas that is considered a War Crime when used on citizens in war zones.) Then she began to threaten us with refusing to preform standard duties. Then she said she wouldn’t use gas and within hours, did it anyway. Then she threatened to close our precinct. Then she abandoned the East Precinct which lead to the creation of CHAZ. She completely mishandled this situation. All of the SPD is guilty of fighting tooth and nail to maintain this system that is undeniably oppressive. They have earned this vitriol. The police all across this country view us as either stupid animals, or dangerous animals. 

    • TM7302 August 11, 2020 (10:26 am)

      Good luck to you, Chief Best!

  • WS Citizen August 11, 2020 (8:10 am)

    Right on, Donita!  Well put.

  • Um, No! August 11, 2020 (9:34 am)

    Carmen Best for Mayor!  

    • TM7302 August 11, 2020 (10:26 am)

      She’s got my vote!!!

  • WS Resident August 11, 2020 (3:12 pm)

    WSB, during all of the previous city council stories you posted the actual legislative document however you didn’t do that for this story (where they actually approved the legislation).  Do you have a copy of the legislation that was actually passed? 

Sorry, comment time is over.