Tag Archives: Budget Shortfalls

Seattle’s Divide on Public Safety Is Fueling a Fight Over Next Year’s Police Budget

by Ben Adlin

After an election that largely snubbed progressive candidates, advocates calling for cuts to police budgets are working to convince Seattle leaders to follow through with promises to reform law enforcement and fund alternatives to dealing with the city’s problems.

A revised budget proposal out of the Seattle City Council this week would make about $10.8 million in cuts to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed 2022 funding increases to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Projected revenue for Seattle’s general fund has fallen by about $15 million since Durkan released her proposed $7.1 billion City budget in September.

Durkan has said the investment in police is needed to address higher-than-normal officer departures in recent years and ensure fast response times to emergencies. But councilmembers and community advocates have challenged that idea, arguing that investments in services such as housing and education do more to improve public safety and improve the resiliency of vulnerable communities.

A rebalanced budget package introduced last Tuesday, Nov. 9, by City Council Select Budget Committee Chair Teresa Mosqueda would reduce Durkan’s proposed $365.4 million police budget to $354.6 million. Overall, Mosqueda’s budget would amount to an $8.3 million (2.3%) cut to SPD funding compared to this year’s budget, while Durkan’s plan would expand police spending by $2.5 million (0.7%).

Meanwhile, the Seattle Solidarity Budget coalition, which represents a number of local groups focused on improving public services and investing in Seattle’s BIPOC communities, is calling for an additional $29 million to be cut from next year’s police budget. The group sees the final weeks of the budget process as a chance to cement popular calls for police reform that took center stage during widespread community protests last year, following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Graham Street Light Rail Station Dodges Delay

by Lizz Giordano

While other Sound Transit projects face delays, all three future light rail infill stations — stations to be inserted along existing rail lines — including one planned for South Graham Street, remain on time or early, the agency decided Thursday, Aug. 6, as it confronts a $6.5 billion budget deficit. 

At the beginning of 2021, Sound Transit declared much of Sound Transit 3 (ST3) “unaffordable” as the agency faced a shortfall. The agency blames rising land costs, declining sales tax revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns, and pricey project add-ons for the budget gap, which has since narrowed in part due to increased tax revenue projections. 

The board approved a plan Thursday that placed projects into four tiers, prioritizing those in the top two tiers, which are mainly light rail and bus rapid transit extensions. Most of these are facing a two- to five-year postponement. Sound Transit estimates items in tiers three and four, mostly parking and Sounder train projects, could be delayed up to 10 years. On top of a financial setback, some ST3 projects face a one- to two-year planning lag which the agency attributes mostly to the pandemic.

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