Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is defending his dealings with the Department of Justice over the federal plan to reform the Seattle Police Department.

In a sharply worded letter to the mayor, the city attorney warned the city is on the verge of being sued by the DOJ.

The mayor says he'll only settle with the DOJ if it protects public safety and it doesn t cost Seattle too much money.

McGinn has just two weeks to settle with the Justice Department or risk an expensive lawsuit against the city. He has been in negotiations to fix a pattern and practice of excessive force by Seattle Police.

Now for the first time, Mayor McGinn is being accused by the city attorney of rebutting the Justice Department rather than working with them.

And on Tuesday a council member said the delayed tactics are hurting the city.

The fact that it has taken so long is damaging morale in the police department and it leaves questions in the community, said Tim Burgess.

McGinn believes the Justice Department plan has defects and is too expensive.

My objective is to work out a mutually agreed resolution. I would prefer not to enter into litigation. That s up to the DOJ if they chose that, he said.

The Mayor has said the feds reform plan could cost up to $40 million, an estimate many say is too high. But critics say a lawsuit could cost the city more.

You don t just say that you are working in good have to prove it in negotiations. And if he had proved it we wouldn t be in this situation, said Councilman Bruce Harrell.

KING 5's Linda Brill and Susan Wyatt contributed to this report.

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