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Mayor Durkan Issues Statement on Council’s Adoption of 2021 Budget

Mayor Will Sign 2021 Budget into Law

Seattle (November 23, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued a statement today on the City Council’s adoption of the 2021 Budget. The City Council’s budget adoption comes after the City Budget Office issued an updated economic forecast for 2020 and 2021 that shows an additional $57 million in net new revenue. In a letter to the City Council following the forecast, the Mayor detailed her priorities for these additional revenues, including increasing services for the individuals experiencing homelessness, a restoration of the Strategic Investment Fund, a mitigation of City layoffs, and a citywide cleanup program to address litter and illegal dumping. The Mayor’s letter to City Council can be found here. The Mayor will sign the 2021 Budget into law next week.

“In the midst of an unprecedented year, we had to go through two budget cycles to both address the significant drop in revenue for 2020 and to plan for 2021. I proposed, and the City Council adopted with few changes, a budget that makes truly historic investments in Seattle communities, lays the groundwork for an equitable recovery, and reflects our values for the future of Seattle. In September, I outlined four priorities: continuing to invest in our historic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making the City’s largest-ever investment in racial equity and justice, addressing our homelessness and housing crisis, and advancing public safety while reimagining policing.

“For the first time, the City’s budget will invest $100 million directly in communities of color, and these investments will center and be determined by Black and Indigenous communities. In order to become the stronger, more just city we want to be on the other side of this pandemic, we have to make generational investments in education, access to housing and health care, and community wealth-building.

“This budget also addresses our communities’ needs around COVID-19. Our residents, workers, and businesses continue to reel from this pandemic. While this budget provides important resources for our COVID-19 response programs that have led the nation, including testing, grocery vouchers, and small business grants, we know the City cannot meet the need alone. After meeting with President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris to discuss cities and the struggles of our residents and small businesses, I know COVID-19 response will be a priority for their administration.

“Addressing housing and homelessness remains a key priority, particularly as the pandemic has increased challenges and set us back as a region. I am grateful the City Council adopted my proposals to help people transition out of homelessness and into permanent housing, and to address the effects of increased unauthorized encampments throughout the city. This budget creates hundreds of new shelter spaces for people experiencing homelessness, ensures we continue engagement to help people living in encampments access services, and provides resources to mitigate the impacts on neighborhoods and parks throughout the city. To address the scale of the problem, it makes the largest single-year investment in homeless services in Seattle’s history. The City Council’s adopted budget also supports the Clean Cities Initiative, which I put forward to address garbage and other waste that has accrued over the last several months.

“This summer and fall, in consultation with former Chief Best and Interim Chief Diaz, I proposed thoughtful reductions to the Seattle Police Department that coincide with increased and continued investments in alternatives to sworn officer responses including expanding Health One and continuing to invest in mental health professionals and Community Service Officers. Since June, I have outlined my vision and plan to make budget decisions based on informed assessments of what services we need from the Seattle Police Department and how we can scale up alternatives to policing. As the City Council now recognizes, this required a thoughtful and deliberate approach and could not be done by simply cutting to any particular number or percentage.

“I believe we are laying the groundwork to make systemic and lasting changes to policing. We have rightly put forward a plan that seeks to ensure SPD has enough officers to meet 911 response and investigative needs throughout the city, while acknowledging and addressing the disproportionate impacts policing has had on communities of color, particularly Black communities. 

“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget than occurred this summer which led to the resignation of former SPD Chief Carmen Best.

“As we approach the end of an undeniably long and  difficult year, I believe we’ve turned a corner and can make collaborative, data-driven decisions that advance our shared policy goals. I look forward to working with the City Council and communities to chart the next chapters for increasing our investments in an equitable future, while also reimagining the work of SPD and creating alternative, community-based public safety models.”