One last time before leaving office in a few months, Mayor Jenny Durkan gave her annual budget speech tonight.
But what she chose to mention is only a fraction of what’s in the 768-page “budget book.” We read through key department sections of the $7.1 billion budget, as well as the accompanying Capital Improvement Program that spans into 2023 and beyond. Here are notes of (mostly) local interest:
SDOT: Of course the agency’s $718 million plan has all the money expected to be needed to fix and reopen the West Seattle Bridge. It also has $5 million for maintenance on three movable bridges, including the West Seattle low bridge, and the 4th Avenue South bridge. But the most eyecatching West Seattle item is in the Capital Improvement Program – penciling in 35th Avenue SW repaving for 2023, Morgan to Roxbury. Where the $35 million would come from, they haven’t decided yet.
PARKS & REC: West Seattle’s three landbanked park sites – 48th and Charlestown, 40th SW in The Junction, and the addition in Morgan Junction – were put on hold for the pandemic. But the $283 million Parks budget for next year includes money to get them going again. Other named West Seattle projects would include energy-efficiency woork at Hiawatha (which is already closed for renovations) and some money to support closing-time security at Alki Beach.
POLICE: The $365 million plan is slightly more than last year. Here’s what the mayor said about it in her speech:
We’ll also continue to address public safety challenges. Like many of you, I believe it’s a false choice to say we must choose between investing in effective community alternatives OR investing in having enough well trained police officers.
We need both.
This budget ensures we have enough police officers AND alternatives to police interventions, particularly for people in crisis. Like HealthOne, a program I launched before the pandemic that sends medics and social workers instead of police to certain 911 calls.
My budget also adds 125 new officers and one million dollars for officer hiring incentives, and new resources for training and oversight. I hope the City Council joins me to support this approach for true community safety, and not buy into false choices.
The alternatives would include adding six Community Service Officers as well as moving money to “specialized triage” and a Regional Peacekeepers Collective.
Those are just a few sections of the many in the budget – you can browse them section by section by going here. Some departments have started publishing their own summaries – including Parks, SDOT; watch for others here.
WHAT’S NEXT: The City Council, meeting as the Select Budget Committee, will review and amend the mayor’s plan over the next two months. Meetings start Wednesday, with individual department presentations; here’s the agenda for that day (watch for subsequent meetings’ agendas here). Three public hearings are planned – 5:30 pm October 12 and November 10, 9:30 am November 18, all online, so you can comment from wherever you are – go here for more info on how to attend/participate. You can also email councilmembers any time – here’s how.