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Mayor Durkan Announces Updated 2020 Proposal to Address COVID-19 Spending, $300 million Revenue Loss, and Combat Racial Inequity

Seattle (June 23, 2020) –  Facing an unprecedented economic downtown, global health pandemic and action to rethink policing and investments in community, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan submitted a revised budget proposal to address $233 million in additional spending related to COVID-19 and a $300 million decline in revenue to the City. Mayor Durkan initially submitted her 2020 budget proposal, which was later approved, in the Fall of 2019.  You can view the full presentation on the City’s updated proposal, unexpected spending and revenue shortfall here

“Our city and country are at a historic crossroads. We are facing a global pandemic that is killing friends, families, and neighbors and is disproportionately impacting communities of color. Our city has record unemployment and unprecedented loss of $300 million to our budget, and a civil rights movement that is demanding action to rethink policing, acknowledge and dismantle institutional racism and invest in true community health and opportunity,” said Mayor Durkan. “Even in this unprecedented and challenging moment, I believe our 2020 budget addresses in part our community’s needs at this critical time 

The City has identified approximately $20 million in initial cuts to the SPD budget for the remainder of this year, which is the largest cut of any department in the General Fund. As part of the budget, the City will be pausing moving forward on the planning of construction for the North Precinct. Last week, Mayor Durkan asked the Seattle Police Department to evaluate options for reductions, and is committing additional funds to engage community this summer to provide substantive input on 2021 SPD budget choices. 

To address the pandemic and economic downturn that has disproportionately impacted communities of colors, the City has taken a series of actions such as:  

  • Provided rental assistance for thousands of individuals  
  • Implemented free citywide testing for residents and workers 
  • Created a first in the nation grocery voucher program  
  • Expansion of hygiene, emergency shelters and services for individuals experiencing homelessness  
  • Supported food and meal delivery for the most vulnerable including seniors  
  • Waived interest charges on SCL and SPU accounts and increased enrollment in the Utility Discount Program  
  • Assistance to small businesses, artists, non-profits and cultural organizations as they struggle for survival  
  • Distributed of facial coverings to community based organizations 

To fill the revenue shortfall and increases in COVID-19 spending, the City is proposing to primarily use: 

  • $201 million from state and federal resources including FEMA, CARES Act, Coronavirus Relief Fund, and WA Department of Commerce;  
  • $62 million in emergency funds, rainy day funds and 2019 underspend;  
  • $32 million in reprioritized funds for COVID-19 response;  
  • $69 million in budget reductions from City departments, including $20 million from the Seattle Police Department; and  
  • Explore options for an additional $11 million in savings. 

The City Budget Office directed departments to evaluate immediate changes to their budget in order to meet the more than $300 million gap for the 2020 budget. Departments were asked to use the City’s RSJI principles minimize harm to historically underserved and BIPOC communities and utilize budget reductions with smallest community impact.  

The City’s revenue projections for 2021 show at least $293 million shortfall.