Mayor Durkan vetoes City Council’s budget plan to cut police funding

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday said she has vetoed the rebalanced budget that was recently approved by the City Council.

On Aug. 10, the City Council passed by a veto-proof majority 7-1 vote its amended 2020 budget that included historic reductions to the Seattle Police Department, such as cutting as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition.

Debora Juarez was not present while Kshama Sawant was the lone “no” vote because she said the cuts did not go far enough.

It takes only 6 votes to override a Mayor’s veto meaning two councilmembers would have to change their minds for Durkan’s veto to be sustained. The councilmembers now have 30 days to respond.

The action was supported by some demonstrators who have marched in the city following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but was strongly opposed by Durkan and police Chief Carmen Best. But it was far less than the 50% the council initially promised, which Black Lives Matter supporters demanded be reinvested elsewhere in the community.

The rebalanced budget also cut some of Best’s salary, and the next day she announced her plans to retire from the department on Sept. 2.

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Durkan said she and Best have been looking all summer to collaborate with the city council to find a path forward on the various issues the city is facing.

However, she said the bills she vetoed were passed “without the level of collaboration that I think we need and more importantly that the city expects of us.”

The mayor said she, the police department and the city council all agree the city needs to make significant investments in the Black community.

She then added “I do not believe the 2020 budget, in its current form, moves us closer to those shared goals.”

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Durkan said the community needs to know what the proposed cuts would do to public safety and said there needs to be alternative programs in place.

Durkan also said she vetoed the council’s bill that would appropriate $3 million to the Legislative Department and a bill that would more than $13 million from a city department to support new spending.

“I believe each of these bills seek(s) to spend money we simply do not have,” Durkan said.

Durkan stressed that while she issued the vetoes due to disagreements she remains committed to having ongoing discussions with Council President Lorena Gonzales and other councilmembers to “make needed changes in a consistent, thoughtful, and deliberate manner.”

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