Area’s needs pitched at Budget Forum

See which outer East Portland programs were presented at the only east-side budget hearing, held at David Douglas High …

In the Hazelwood neighborhood, people from all over the city prepared to testify on behalf of programs meaningful to them arrive to testify in outer East Portland, in the South Cafeteria of David Douglas High School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council held their only east of the Willamette River “Community Budget Form”, on the evening of April 3, the spacious room at David Douglas High School was filled to its legal capacity.

In fact, after security guards at the door counted 847 people inside the facility – that’s its stated capacity, according to the State Fire Marshall – late-arrivers were barred from entering, until after some of the attendees spoke and left, during the meeting.

Portland City Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz, Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Commissioner Nick Fish prepare to listen to public testimony (Commissioner Dan Saltzman was absent).

“Tonight is one of our Community Budget Forums, at which the Mayor and Portland City Council members hear from the community their priorities for the upcoming budget process,” explained City of Portland City Budget Director Andrew Scott. “I think these forums are really helpful to Council members as they are going through the budget process.

“At this point, and things change all the time, we’re looking at a $1.5 million dollar deficit for the City on an ongoing basis, and also, about a $24 million one-time surplus,” Scott told East Portland News.

The key decisions for City Council, Scott remarked, is how to allocate budget money “in order to fund some of the housing, public safety, livability, and resiliency issues that the Mayor has put forward – and where we need to make some ‘realignments’ in the city budget to do so.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler welcomes those attending the Community Budget Forum.

In his opening remarks, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said that, although the economy seems strong, costs are outpacing revenues.

“There are key challenges that are facing our community. For example, increasing housing options remains important, as does homelessness,” Wheeler commented. “Also, maintaining critical infrastructure, enhancing livability, and ensuring public safety and police accountability, pursuing innovation, and pursuing resiliency – all of them continue to be important priorities.

“We asked Bureaus to submit budget options to give the Council a realistic look of what it takes to maintain ‘mission-critical’ programs, while also prioritizing investments that address key challenges facing our community today,” Wheeler said. “Last year we spent about $27 million on addressing the homeless crisis, including homeless prevention, homeless interventions, emergency subculture services, addiction treatment, mental health services, and transitioning into housing.”

Hundreds of people listen to, or await their turn to testify for, the City of Portland’s elected officials.

The “Mayor’s City of Portland FY 2018-19 Budget Guidance” shows:

Housing and Homelessness

  • Rental services – add $2 million
  • Home Repair – add $500,000 for home repair grants
  • Joint Office of Homeless Services – $10.5 million in one-time resources to maintain current year’s funding level
  • New Homeless Service Requests – $735,000 in new ongoing General Fund for alternative shelter programs, emergency management coordination, and housing placement market cost adjustments

Livability

  • Campsite Clean-up – add $1.5 million in ongoing resources to continue to provide rapid response cleanups across city-owned property
  • East bank Esplanade – increased maintenance – $750,000

Public Safety & Police Accountability

  • Derelict RV Enforcement – $1.7 million ongoing
  • Police Staffing – add $10,266,134 ongoing and 1,929,538 one-time, to create 93 additional sworn positions and nine non-sworn positions
  • Service Coordination Team – add $1,544,904 in ongoing services and program sustainment
  • Police Records Systems – $1,215,250 one-time, to fund increase-per- user costs

Infrastructure

  • ADA ramps – $10 million ($5 million one-time, and $5 million ongoing)
  • Major Maintenance Funding for Parks – $625,000 ongoing
  • Washington Park staircase – $500,000
  • Bureau of Transportation Vision Zero program – $1.75 million one-time funding

East Portland Neighborhood Office Director Victor Salinas drops off a written request to members of the Portland City Council endorsing a budget funding increase for EPNO of $201,980 – to increase staff hours and salaries, including his own, by $169,980 – with about $32,000 going to increase “direct funding program” budgets.

Several speak up supporting the East Portland Action Plan

Without saying a word, these attendees make it clear that they support funding for the “East Portland Action Plan”.

Several of those who testified on behalf of outer East Portland projects testified in favor of the East Portland Action Plan (EPAP).

For example, Natalya Sobolevskaya asked for the “Mobile Playgrounds” program to again have funding for two units in outer East Portland, providing summer activities for children.

Former Division Midway Alliance Director Lori Boisen testifies on behalf of outer East Portland priorities.

“I’m here this evening speaking on behalf of the ‘Add Package’ for the Division Transit and Safety Projects,” Boisen began. “I’m asking you to fund these projects as part of the East Portland Action Plan’s priorities.

“I’m also here asking you to fund the proposed Gateway Education Center, making this idea a reality for outer East Portland; it is also a priority for the EPAP, we hope that you can find a way to fund this program, which will so greatly benefit people of our area,” Boisen said.

Into the evening, testimony continued.

Beginning in May, public hearings will begin in City Hall chambers; and on June 7, the Portland City Council will adopt the budget.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

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