Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the amended 2022 budget into law Thursday, celebrating investments in housing, despite opposition to changes in the police budget made by the City Council.
The $7.1 billion budget is largely reflective of Durkan’s priorities laid out in her final budget proposal as mayor, which she proposed in September, including significant investments in affordable housing, COVID-19 recovery and other priorities.
“The 2022 budget invests nearly another $200 million in long-term affordable housing and at the same time enhances shelter opportunities and support services for people experiencing homelessness,” Durkan said during an event hosted in one of the city’s newest supportive housing developments, Kristin Benson Place.
But Durkan was not pleased with the entire budget, again criticizing a $9.9 million reduction in the Seattle Police Department budget approved by the council, when compared with her initial proposal.
“While I am proud of the investments that our budget makes in the future, I will say — and everyone knows — I still disagree strongly with council’s continued failure to adequately support the retention, recruitment and training of Seattle Police officers at a time when our public safety needs are increasing,” Durkan said.
The budget approved 8-1 by the council last week cut funding from unfilled positions in the Seattle police budget that the department did not expect to be able to fill in 2022.
Interim police Chief Adrian Diaz said the department is still able to hire additional officers in the council’s budget, but he worried that the council’s funding changes will affect retention and future budgets.
“I use some of that money when I haven’t filled those positions for a variety of different things, from technology to equipment and tools and everything to making sure that we are finding efficiencies to do our job,” Diaz said of the reduction and a failed council effort to abrogate additional positions. “And so, that is why (although) it might not have impacted in 2022, it would have had a great deal of impact in 2023.”
Teresa Mosqueda, council budget chair and sponsor of the police budget reduction amendment, said Thursday that the council made the decision to be “firm in the need and approach to redeploy funds in a way that served to help create stability, safety and a resilient Seattle here forward.”
Ultimately, Durkan says, the total $10 million to $20 million in budget disagreements between her office and City Council this year do not undermine the good of the final 2022 budget, so she chose to sign the document despite her disagreements.
“We have to be able to have collaboration to respect the views of others to continue working, and not just say it’s everything I want or nothing,” she said, denouncing divisive politics at all levels of government. “And I think that goes for both the council and to the mayor-elect.”