The Chopping Block

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee June 14, 2010

Staff from the mayor's office will brief the city council in the next few minutes about proposed cuts to the police department—as well as a number of other city departments.

SPD has already instituted a hiring freeze in anticipation of the cuts, which probably means the city's not-yet-fully-implemented neighborhood policing plan is done for.

We'll have more (possibly even live updates!) in a bit.

UPDATE: Mayor McGinn has proposed keeping the hiring freeze in place, saving 2.1 million/cutting .9% of the department's budget.

More info after the jump.

The mayor's office claims the number of sworn officers in the department is at "record levels."

Beth Goldberg, the city's budget director, says: "We are pausing the expansion of the number of officers, but it does not mean we are moving away...from emphasizing neighborhood policing."

We'll see how that goes. I don't think the council is very hot on the idea of a hiring freeze.

McGinn is holding off on proposing any cuts to the fire department following a deadly fire in Fremont over the weekend.

Update X2: The police department will continue filling "maintenance hiring"—officers lost to attrition/transfers/etc.

Update x3: McGinn just released this statement:

“Seattle is facing difficult choices relating to the financial health of our city. In difficult times, we look to the values of our community, and seek to safeguard those values even while we are scaling back to meet budget deficits. 

Over the past five months, I’ve held dozens of community town halls and met with hundreds of citizens and community leaders. Today’s mid-year budget release reflects the shared values of the community as expressed in those conversations.

Budget Director Beth Goldberg drafted a budget that is fiscally responsible, protects public safety and human services, and prepares us to deal with reductions in revenue in 2010 and going into 2011. 

The tragedy in Fremont this past weekend gave us a concrete example of the importance of protecting our public safety budget; in light of that event, I am not proposing any reductions to the Fire Department, giving us an opportunity to fully review the safety implications of any potential reductions. 

I am also pleased to announce that we’ve been able to keep our public swimming pools and community centers open through the end of 2010.

But, make no mistake. We continue to face difficult choices in the city budget, and the projected deficits for 2011 will require us to work even harder to provide the needed services. 

We’ll continue to let our values as a community guide us in those decisions.”

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