Seattle Mayor-Elect Harrell on SPD budget, Sawant recall: ‘I will deal with the hand I have’

Nov 24, 2021, 12:44 PM
Bruce Harrell...
Seattle Mayor-Elect Bruce Harrell. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The framework for Seattle Mayor-Elect Bruce Harrell’s administration was established on Monday with Seattle City Council’s passage of its 2022 budget.

Many of the marquee items in that budget directly affect Harrell’s flexibility to enact the campaign promises that likely won him the election: “ending homelessness” and “ensuring public safety,” per his campaign’s website.

His relationship with the council, as currently dictated by his perspective on a budget which signals the council’s political agenda moving into next year, will be a primary determinate for his administration’s relative success. That relationship is one of cautious skepticism, albeit with a few potential caveats.

“Coming out of an election, you have to understand what people ran on and what the voters want,” Harrell told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News.

“It’s very clear they want seven minute response time. They want effective policing. I’m not fully convinced that that was taken into consideration to the level that I would have liked to have been,” Harrell said. “But I’m not going to make excuses coming in. I have to deal with the hand that I have.”

Seattle’s next mayor did not fully elaborate on those aspects of the budget of which he is not in full approval.

The Seattle Police Department’s budget was in fact “cut:” Their funds for 2022 amount to $355.5 million over the prior year’s $363 million. However, that leaves out some important context. Namely, that the fund differential can be attributed to the 135 open officer positions from a department that has seen significant attrition in years past.

The council ultimately approved SPD for 125 new officer hires in 2022, a number which exceeds their 2021 hiring figures (87 new hires were reported in 2021).

On the subject of the council’s allocation of federal dollars to address housing and homelessness, Harrell was more optimistic.

Leaders unveil ‘Seattle Rescue Plan’ to aid city’s post-pandemic recovery

“I did see some good investments there,” Harrell continued. “I am concerned on how it appears they might have already decided the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, the $116 million or so we will get from the federal government.”

“I would like to have been in a position to have those discussions once my cabinet and I are in place. It’s my understanding that there were some decisions made now, and we have not looked at that on a granular basis, but I would have liked more flexibility on how we handle those funds,” he added.

On the subject of taxation and the city council’s progressive payroll tax on large corporations, Harrell implied that he is favorable toward the tax revenue, saying, “I look forward to the revenue if in fact we do receive it and the litigation allows us to receive it.”

That “JumpStart” tax has been attributed as the reason the council was not forced to apply more strident cuts to their 2022 budget, according to Councilmember and Chair of the Budget Committee Teresa Mosqueda.

“The JumpStart Seattle payroll tax was the reason, that unlike cities across the country, we have not had budgetary cuts to city services and layoffs,” Mosqueda wrote in a news release.

“After weeks of restoring the JumpStart Seattle spending plan to protect against future fiscal cliffs, we received a negative economic revenue forecast, putting the budget out of balance by $15 million, in addition to numerous budget corrections,” Mosqueda continued. “Despite this economic volatility, working with Council Central Staff, I was able to maintain and add to the fiscal reserves proposed by the Mayor, protecting against future economic volatility, and I was able to invest tens of millions of dollars in Council priorities.”

On the subject of the council’s progressive policy, Harrell was asked if he supports the Kshama Sawant recall campaign.

“Let the voters decide,” he said. “The way I look at it is I have criticized the city council absolutely. … Their policies are misaligned.”

“I believe with what the city wants. I’ve actively said, I’m looking for city council members to run instead of other people to run,” Harrell said. “Everyone has an opinion, but these people on the council, they worked hard to put themselves in this position. If one is critical as they are, then get off the bench and see what you can do if you can do it better.”

MyNorthwest’s Nick Bowman contributed to this report.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Local News

Seattle, COVID...
Nick Bowman

Local leaders: Emerging omicron variant ‘does not change our approach to fighting pandemic’

Gov. Inslee, Executive Constantine, and Mayor Durkan issued a joint statement on the local responses to the omicron variant early this week.
8 hours ago
Christmas tree...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Seattle-area lot owner says don’t wait to buy your Christmas tree this year

If you get a Christmas tree at a place that sells them year after year, you likely don't need to worry about talk of a supply problem. But you may pay more.
8 hours ago
Sawant signatures recall...
Nick Bowman

Kshama Sawant recall could see District 3 voters buried in ballots over next two years

The jury's still out on whether Seattle's Kshama Sawant will be recalled. But what happens if District 3 voters do choose to remove her? 
1 day ago
school mascot...
MyNorthwest Staff

Pierce County school mascot ‘warriors’ slated for replacement over new state law

Clover Park High School will change its school mascot to comply with a new state law prohibiting the use of Native American iconography in public schools.
1 day ago
new variant...
MyNorthwest Staff

Still ‘a lot we don’t know’ about omicron variant, says Washington hospital official

A new variant has sparked concern across the globe, but the good news in Washington is that COVID hospitalizations have gone down in the past week.
1 day ago
Seattle council, police reform...
Nick Bowman

From taxes to police reform: Seattle council begins work on 2022 wishlist for state lawmakers

Seattle City Council will begin work this week on an early draft of their priorities for the state's upcoming 2022 legislative session. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Seattle Mayor-Elect Harrell on SPD budget, Sawant recall: ‘I will deal with the hand I have’