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Mayor Durkan Announces Next Steps on City Council’s 2020 Revised Budget Actions

Per Council’s Intent, the City Will Suspend the Work of the Navigation Team Effective Immediately

Seattle (September 30, 2020) – Following Council’s decision to defund the Navigation Team and proceed with out of order layoffs at the Seattle Police Department, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced next steps on the City Council’s 2020 revised budget. Earlier this summer, the Mayor transmitted a 2020 rebalanced budget and her proposal included $20 million in cuts to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). The Council added $3 million in cuts to the Mayor’s proposal, which included the elimination of the Navigation Team, cuts to SPD Command Staff salaries, and layoffs of SPD officers. The Mayor vetoed the Council’s plan in August; you can read her veto statement here. Last week, the Council overrode the Mayor’s veto.

Due to Council action, the Executive branch will immediately pursue needed next steps on the following changes adopted by the City Council:

  • Move forward on bargaining out of order layoffs of 70 Seattle Police Department (SPD) sworn officers with the expectation that layoffs cannot be completed by November 1, 2020;
  • Suspend all the work of the Navigation Team through the end of 2020; and
  • Move forward on funding community-based programs that provide alternatives to policing, understanding Council will prioritize funding in 2021 budget process.

“This year, COVID-19 has brought new challenges to our homelessness crisis. Our City outreach teams have served a key role in shelter referrals, distributing resources for COVID-19, coordinating outreach and litter abatement, and addressing the limited removal of encampments that pose an extreme public health or safety risk to both residents of the encampment and the surrounding communities. Council voted repeatedly to defund the Navigation Team, which requires the City to suspend operations,” said Mayor Durkan. “While I continue to hope Council may choose to address many of the legal and operational concerns raised by stripping funding for the Navigation Team, the City will move forward with elements of the budget that can be implemented. I will continue to try to find common ground with Council to address issues that must be fixed legislatively.”

Earlier today, the Mayor’s Office sent a letter to the City Council confirming that Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz will begin the process to conduct out of order layoffs, as Council directed. Both the Council and the Executive received advice that out of orders layoffs could not be accomplished this year because they require bargaining with the affected unions and working with the Public Safety Civil Service Commission.

Per the Seattle Municipal Code Ch. 4.04, the Labor Relations unit will request Council to convene a meeting of the Labor Relations Policy Committee (LRPC), which includes members of the City Council’s Select Committee on Labor. The LRPC will plan and adopt the City’s parameters and strategies as it relates to bargaining the out of order layoffs. To date, the City has received demands to bargain out of order layoffs from the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) and the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA). Both SPOG and SPMA are demanding to bargain the decisions and the effects of layoffs, meaning that the unions will seek to prevent layoffs from being implemented until an agreement is reached, or until the parties reach impasse. Layoffs are not expected to occur by November 1, 2020, so the Executive will transmit legislation to lift the proviso in 2020 as 2021 budget deliberations occur.

Following Council’s amendment to “defund the Navigation Team,” the Mayor’s Office also submitted a memo to the City Council that outlines next steps regarding the Navigation Team. Consistent with the City Council’s vote to eliminate the Navigation Team by stripping it of all funding, the City will suspend operations until the Council restores funding for these positions. The team has focused on outreach and services during COVID-19 response, conducting a limited number of unauthorized encampment removals—and only for extreme circumstances—since March. Today’s announcement suspends all field operations and services. The Navigation Team includes employees that oversee contracted outreach, assist individuals with storage, conduct site inspections, provide garbage and waste services, housing and service referrals, and coordination of requests with City departments, residents, and businesses. In recent years, the employees of the Navigation Team have been on the frontlines of helping individuals in our city’s most dangerous encampments and working in circumstances like the historic snow storm or recent wildfire smoke. HSD will be providing operational updates for service and shelter providers in the coming days.

As Council was advised by the Human Services Department, the Council’s actions effectively return the City’s response to unsheltered homelessness to a pre-2017 model where service providers alone were the City’s response to encampments. 

Finally, the Mayor’s Office submitted a memo to the City Council affirming the Mayor’s commitment to allocate as much of the $14 million for community-based safety programs as possible in 2020. HSD will immediately allocate $4 million to programs that hold an existing contract with the department. HSD will create a new program for the remaining $10 million. Once this plan is finalized, consistent with Council’s proviso on these funds, the Executive will bring an ordinance forward for Council consideration on releasing these $10 million dollars for allocation, award and contract in compliance with all applicable laws, including SMC Ch. 20.50 Procurement of Consultant Services.

“The City’s Human Services Department will work to distribute as much of the $14 million to community-based organizations as is feasible in 2020. I agree that investing in alternatives to policing and the criminal legal system is crucial to the City’s work to reimagine policing and invest in BIPOC communities. However, my concern centered around Council seeking to borrow money, with no identified funding source, but it is my hope Council will address the $14 million as part of their 2021 budget process,” concluded Mayor Durkan.

The $3 million that the City Council allocated for participatory budgeting and community-led research will move forward with no Executive action. As the legislative branch appropriated dollars to the legislative branch, no action from the Mayor or City departments is required. All awards are subject to the same contracting and competitive bid requirements of local laws.

Yesterday, Mayor Durkan transmitted her 2021 Proposed Budget to the City Council. The Council is expected to finalize the budget in November 2020.