Portland City Council holds outer East Portland Budget Hearing

See what happened during the last stop on the City-wide tour, on which the City Council pitched new budget priorities, and who Mayor Hales decided were the winners and losers

Members of the Portland City Council gather for a public meeting to get input from outer East Portland folks about the upcoming budget.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On the evening of April 24, members of the Portland City Council met in a public Budget Process meeting inside the David Douglas High School North Cafeteria.

In the City of Portland Budget Process for fiscal year 2014-2015, Mayor Charlie Hales’ budget priorities, in what he called a “Stabilization Budget”, fall in four areas of Complete neighborhoods, Critical needs, Emergency preparedness, and Homelessness & Hunger.

City of Portland Budget Office Budget Director Andrew Scott opens the program.

“The City Council is looking at some of the priorities, as well as requests to hand back some of the services that were cut,” said City of Portland Budget Office Budget Director Andrew Scott, as the meeting began.

One of the big requests is by Portland Fire & Rescue, Scott told East Portland News. “This request falls under the category of ‘Emergency preparedness’, restoring the Bureau’s personnel positions. The $2.6 million will fund those positions when the grants that currently fund those positions run out in another year and a half.”

Mayor Charlie Hales looks enthusiastic at the start of the meeting.

There’s a lot of talk about outer East Portland programs, including the East Portland Action Plan, Scott said. “And, investments in SUN Schools programs, as well.”

At the meeting, attendees learned that, during this budget cycle, General Fund Bureaus were not required to submit reduction packages.

Bureaus requesting additional resources were directed to only ask for critical needs or for enhancements that improve services to help complete neighborhoods, reduce homelessness and hunger, and to increase emergency preparedness.

The exception was the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services, which were directed to submit their budgets with a 2.5% operating budget reduction.

Students prepare to testify in favor of increased funding for SUN School programs.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Westside Emergency Preparedness (Sears facility): $2.9 million
  • Restore Portland Fire & Rescue positions $2.6 million
  • BOEC staffing increases: $.8 million

Complete Neighborhoods

  • Convert seasonal Portland Parks workers to full-time: $1.1 million
  • SUN School investments: $.7 Million
  • East Portland Action Plan $.3 Million

Homelessness & Hunger

  • Permanent Housing $1 Million
  • Prevent Youth Homelessness $.5 Million
  • Housing Investment $3 Million

Critical Needs

  • Tree Code Enforcement: $.5 Million
  • Natural Resource Damage Assessment: $2.1 Million
  • Portland Parks Mt. Tabor Yard Improvements: $2 Million
  • Portland Parks Maintenance: $.9 Million
  • Records Retention: $.7 Million

 

During the meeting representatives of groups seeking fiscal support testified on behalf of their respective causes. Audience members supporting the request were asked to wave their hands, not applaud, during the presentations.

Folks with the East Portland Action Plan, sitting in front rows at the meeting, display signs proclaiming their support.

“Given the across-the-board budget cuts over the last few years,” Scott reflected, “there are many demands to restore some of those services. Those are the challenges; but, there are not a lot of resources on the table.”

UPDATE: Mayor publishes his spending plan: Winners and Losers

In Mayor Charlie Hales’ “holding the line” budget proposal, released on May 1, many of the programs he targeted for spending would be funded – but others would not.

It surprised many that Hales’ recommendation did not include additional funding for Portland Fire & Rescue to keep employed 26 firefighters after their federal grant expires in mid-2015 – or even $1 million to retain some of the firefighter positions.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, Steve Novick, and Mayor Charlie Hales listen to another presentation during their last City Budget Meeting.

And, some outer East Portland neighbors will be most likely be astonished to learn that the mayor’s proposed budget does not include a $1 million request for additional sidewalks.

It appeared as if the East Portland Action Plan, and outer East Portland SUN School program presentations were well received by the City Council members – both programs are still funded in Mayor Hales’ budget scheme.

The City Council will vote on a proposed budget on May 28; the City’s Fiscal Year begins in July. To find out more about the budget, check the official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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