MAYOR’S MONEY PLAN: Here are key points from Mayor Harrell’s first proposed budget

That’s the budget speech Mayor Bruce Harrell gave earlier this afternoon, with our area’s big shoutout coming when he talked about transportation spending and noted the reopening of the West Seattle Bridge. From the audience assembled at SDOT’s Charles Street yard, District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold yelled out, “You can’t have One Seattle without West Seattle!” echoing what the mayor said a week and a half ago when politicians gathered for pre-reopening speeches.

But transportation was not at the top of the list in the mayor’s speech, marking his release of a budget proposal for 2023-2024. What was: Public safety, followed by homelessness. Those two topics took up a big chunk of the speech. He promised major investments in police and fire, as well as money toward “diversifying 911 response” and a third public-safety department aimed at that goal. He also announced he’d be undoing a controversial move made before he was elected – taking Parking Enforcement Officers out of SPD and moving them to SDOT. You might recall that the move was so bungled, millions of dollars in tickets had to be voided. As for SPD staffing, the budget summary expresses a hope that the trend of losing officers can be stopped and reversed, to post a net gain over the next two years.

One thing that’s not in the public-safety section of the proposal, according to a summary we received: Continued funding for SFD Ladder 13 and Medic 26, added in West Seattle/South Park for the bridge closure. We reported earlier this month on the fact they only had guaranteed funding through year’s end. So the only way to keep them now would be a council amendment to the budget; Herbold said in her most-recent weekly update that she’ll propose one if necessary.

Regarding tackling homelessness, the mayor declared: “Lack of housing is the source of homelessness.” He promised to get more housing built – saying he’s proposing an added quarter-billion dollars toward affordable housing – and to remove red tape that slows the construction-permitting process. He also said the city would increase its funding for the Regional Homelessness Authority by 13 percent, including more than $2 million for new tiny-house villages and $5 million for residential-vehicle “safe lots.” The Unified Care Team, a multidepartmental group that has worked on outreach, cleanup, and sweeps, will be turned into geographically based teams, Harrell said.

When he got to transportation, Harrell spoke about electrifying the city fleet and supporting the Vision Zero program (which new SDOT director Greg Spotts has said he’s thoroughly reviewing). Besides a mention of the bridge and the importance of infrastructure, he also said the city will step up its work related to the West Seattle-Ballard Link Extensions light-rail program, hiring “a team” including engineers. One note of interest for those who live in West Seattle’s two Residential Parking Zones:

The proposed budget is also making changes to the Restricted Parking Zone fees. The fees will increase from $65 per two years to $95 per two years, along with other fee changes for guest passes and temporary passes. Low-income passes will remain the same.

Other key budget points are in the news release from the mayor’s office, including links to “fact sheets” in areas of emphasis. A more detailed budget summary is here; the full “budget book” is here. Various city departments are all publishing their own takes on what’s in it for them; you can find those aggregated here.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Starting tomorrow, the City Council reviews and amends the mayor’s plan over the next two months. Councilmember Herbold’s most-recent weekly update summarizes how that’ll work and how you can get involved, including key dates – scroll to the last section here.

19 Replies to "MAYOR'S MONEY PLAN: Here are key points from Mayor Harrell's first proposed budget"

  • BJG September 27, 2022 (6:16 pm)

    How curious that zone permit costs are being raised.  The streets haven’t been enforced in months, maybe a year in our neighborhood. Why are these “permits” even more valuable now according to the City?  No one pays any attention to the signs here.

    • Karen September 28, 2022 (10:07 pm)

      Exactly.   I live in a WS RPZ  where we have  not seen a traffic enforcement vehicle on our street in months.   Will higher fees result in better enforcement?  I doubt it. 

  • Rhonda September 27, 2022 (7:55 pm)

    $20 million for SPD is a good start, but twice that amount is needed.

    • James September 28, 2022 (8:29 am)

      I want a full budget cut of SPD.  Especially after the viral tik tok of the Seattle-area cop who admitted they break they law. This is a step in the WRONG direction. SPD salaries are out of control! They need to make less. It’s a service job.  We didn’t do two years of marching to defund them only for them to use that to make even MORE money. Bad use of taxes when we need community investment instead. More money for teachers, schools, mental health facilities, public housing, etc.

      • Bronson September 28, 2022 (10:42 am)

        Sure James, let’s cut the budget for SPD at a time when crime is way up. The poorly messaged defund movement has failed, as well it should have. Some functions of course should be moved out of SPD, but the propensity for the left (of which I am one) to underestimate the dangers that certain situations present that may require a police officer with a gun never ceases to amaze me. Not sure if the bleeding hearts think everyone is a good person in a bad situation, but that is not a realistic view. The comical comparison of policing to just any service job is something. Can’t think of many service jobs where you are literally putting your life on the line on a daily basis (or may be asked to). 

      • anonyme September 28, 2022 (11:17 am)

        “More money for teachers, schools, mental health facilities, public housing, etc.”  Yup, AND police.  There is a shiteload of problems with police and policing, but the day when we don’t need police is either the day the human species evolves to a point where crime becomes extinct – or humans do.  The former is a pipe dream, the latter a certainty.  Oh, and sorry you put in all that hard work marching, but putting yourself literally in the line of fire is kind of hard work, too.

        • Mattamatt September 28, 2022 (12:02 pm)

          We certainly need more police and fire here in West Seattle.  Defunding the police will just give criminals more lead way,  we to upfund police and fire.  BTW we have great police and fire depts

          • CatLady September 29, 2022 (1:37 pm)

            The Seattle Police Department has been under a consent decree from the Justice Department for over a decade, they had the most officers identified at the January 6th riots, and they acted like petulant children when the COVID vaccine mandate went into effect last year, so I have no idea where you’re getting that they’re great. They’re not. 

        • Jort September 28, 2022 (3:01 pm)

          The human species outside of America actually has evolved to the point where crime is not exactly “extinct,” but to a place where there is less crime and less spending on police budgets. If more policing, prosecution and jailing made us safer, wouldn’t we be able to point to our highest-in-the-world incarceration rate and say, “See, we’re the safest!” Or, maybe, we’re out of balance. Maybe? There are alternatives to massive police budgets. Much of the world uses these successfully. Why do you think that America can’t join the rest of the world? Seriously. Why?

          • Mayb September 28, 2022 (8:22 pm)

            Sincerely curious. If maybe there are alternatives…what are they?  Does it maybe make sense to put those alternatives in place BEFORE defunding the police?  See if they work BEFORE we remove the only deterrent we have. 

          • Rhonda September 29, 2022 (1:06 am)

            You’re actually comparing the free United States to European, South American, and  Asian police states where one is guilty until proven innocent and warrantless searches are the norm? Citizens of most of the world’s nations don’t have the protection our 4th Amendment right against illegal search and seizure, 14th Amendment of equal protection under the law, etc. They may have lower crime and fewer prisons, but their societies are pseudo-prison surveillance compounds. You may prefer to live that way, but I’d rather have our freedoms and civil rights and increased crime than live under a semi-Authoritarian nanny-state.

          • anonyme September 29, 2022 (6:31 am)

            Jort, I don’t entirely disagree with you.  There are a lot of reasons why the USA has such a high crime rate – social, political, guns, capitalism, and a culture that celebrates crime.  Too many to go into here.  There are lower crime rates around the world, but no evidence to suggest that the crime rates are related to small police forces and not the other way around.  MayB hits the nail on the head with the observation that removing police as the first action toward change is nonsensical.  Nor is there any logic to the notion that all the money needed to help fix the societal ills that contribute to crime should come from the police budget.  That’s like saying that all money needed to clean up after a hurricane should come out of the salaries of first responders.

      • Johnny Stulic September 28, 2022 (2:33 pm)

        So now we also have a viral WSB post admitting you marched to defund the police just so they can be paid less. I thought defunding police across the board in order to eliminate a small number of police abuses was an infantile move, but this takes the cake.
        Not to mention that today, after years of crime increase (not just) in Seattle, your priority is more handouts to those who won’t work for housing and demand it as some sort of a constitutional right.

    • K September 28, 2022 (9:57 pm)

      Rhonda, read the actual budget.  The “increase” in funding is from moving Parking Enforcement back to SPD’s budget line.  They’re spending the exact same amount of money on police as they did in the last budget.  The PEOs moving back to SPD takes away $20 million from SDoT and puts it in Public Safety.  Nobody is changing their funding.  It’s just taking static funding from one line and putting it on another.  Sadly, accounting tricks like this probably WILL convince enough voters to cheer Harrell on despite him not actually doing anything.  but hey, he ran on a platform of optics, so optics is what you get!

  • PD September 27, 2022 (8:53 pm)

    It would be a shame to see Ladder 13 and M26 go away. They are already in place and working!  If any one knows about the nickname “the dead zone” it is in southern West Seattle. The longest SFD response times in the city.  CPR survival drops in minutes. We need people to make their voices heard now. 

    • CLH September 28, 2022 (8:54 am)

      I first heard about  “the dead zone” years ago from a firefighter while he inspected my home… he was working as an appraiser on the side. I think there was talk at one time of a small aid unit only station here in Arbor Heights, but of course there was never funding for that.

      • anonyme September 28, 2022 (11:12 am)

        I’d never heard of the “dead zone” but as an Arbor Heights resident, it certainly makes sense.  There are still occasions when speaking with police or other city departments that I’m told they can’t help because I’m not within the city limits.  Uh, wrong.  Arbor Heights is largely ignored when it comes to services of any kind, from police/fire to transportation.

        • PD September 28, 2022 (1:30 pm)

          Reach out to city counsel. Let’s keep these fire apparatus if at all possible. L13 & medic 26. The budget is not finalized until November. Residents can still effect change.

  • Jort September 28, 2022 (10:08 am)

    Previous politicians wanted to virtue-signal “defunding” the police by moving Parking Enforcement from SPD to SDOT, a paper move that does nothing but make people feel good about themselves. What Bruce is proposing is no different: by moving Parking back over to SPD, he’ll claim he’s “increased SPD’s budget” and really stuck it to those goody-goody BLM protestors who embarrassed us and made us lose the Virginia governor’s race, thereby causing supposed liberals to enter a full-blown national panic. (“Give the police anything they want! Throw them all the money in the world! Oh my god!”)  Liberal virtue-signaling — in which we proclaim liberal values but rarely take actual action on them — is the hallmark of weak, spineless Seattle politicians who above all else prefer maintaining the status quo at all costs.

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