SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell delivered his first budget speech this week, outlining a $7.4 billion spending plan in 2023 and 2024. Harrell’s speech Tuesday focused on spending in public safety and homelessness.
“After two very long years of the pandemic, today we stand at a pivotal moment in our city’s history,” Harrell said. “Our guiding principle is how best to meet the urgent needs of our communities and empower our employees to deliver essential services. I am proud to say that we are able to deliver a budget that supports the high quality municipal services that our residents have come to expect. , protects essential personnel, and makes smart funding decisions to address community priorities including safety, homelessness, access to opportunity, and more.
His proposal seeks to increase the Seattle Police Department’s budget by about $20 million, for a total of $375 million, primarily by transferring parking enforcement to the SPD from the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Related: Here’s what’s in King County’s proposed $15.8 billion budget
The Seattle City Council voted last year to transfer more than 100 parking enforcement officers out of police jurisdiction. Earlier this year, the city overturned parking tickets for about 200,000 drivers, costing up to $5 million, after it discovered that parking officers had not received proper commissions for writing citations after the transfer.
The mayor’s plan also includes $4.3 million for hiring bonuses and training to ‘recruit and retain the right number and type of officers’, as well as $3 million for data analysis. .
The Seattle Fire Department would receive $54 million to design and build a new fire hall in North Seattle and $2.5 million to hire 90 recruits, an estimated 50% increase. Earlier this year, the Seattle Times reported in detail extreme staff shortage at Seattle Fire, which resulted in nearly $38 million in overtime last year.
The fire department has about 1,000 uniformed employees and, according to the proposal, would have a total budget of $266.5 million.
Other proposed investments include nearly $250 million for affordable housing and $88 million for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, up 13%, including funds to build new small residential villages and secure parking lots. The budget proposed by King County Executive Dow Constantine would add an additional $96 million to support the agency.
As PubliCola notes, Harrell’s plan also looking for 95 million dollars of the city’s JumpStart payroll tax to balance the budget, a move that is likely to backfire on the city council. At present, the proceeds of the tax are largely earmarked for investments in housing and the “Green New Deal”.
The proposal will head to the budget committee of the board for debate and modifications, with a final vote likely in November.
Here are some of the major budget goals for the Mayor’s office:
- Increase the Seattle Fire Department recruiting class by 50% for 2023 and fund the Comprehensive Police Recruitment and Retention Plan.
- Add victim advocates to support victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.
- Funding an additional $4.5 million for community safety solutions and the regional collective of peacekeepers, as part of an overall $47 million investment in the Department of Human Services to support safe communities.
- Reinstatement of the Park Ranger program through the Parks District and $2 million to fund programs exploring diversified responses to 911.
- Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to support affordable housing – an unprecedented investment to address the city’s housing and homelessness crises.
- Investments to maintain thousands of accommodation units and creation of additional options, including small houses and safe lots.
- Investing $88 million in the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to support outreach, shelters and other essential programs.
- $13 million for the city’s Unified Care Team – supporting ongoing efforts to ensure a clean city and the transition from a citywide focus to geographically based teams, providing personalized support to neighborhoods .
- $5 million to support premiums for Seattle’s 4,600 child care workers serving more than 20,000 Seattle children and $5 million to support future generations of children and educators through the UW’s Rainier Valley early learning campus.
- $17 million to support small businesses and economic revitalization programs through the Office of Economic Development.
- A pilot program for the Mayor’s Healthy Seattle initiative, helping connect vulnerable residents to needed health care.
- More than $20 million for Green New Deal investments and the A Seattle Climate Justice Program, supporting a clean energy economy, good jobs, climate-resilient communities, and pollution reduction.
- Investments in a tree equity and resilience plan, increased tree planting capacity and greening of industrial properties.
- $8 million to make travel safer for our most vulnerable residents by funding Vision Zero projects in busy corridors like Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N.