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City budget hearing set Thursday evening

The City Council will hold a public hearing on next year's budget on Thursday evening. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on May 15 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1221 S.W. 4th Ave.

Mayor Charlie Hales will formally present his proposed budget to the council at its regular Wednesday meeting. In the resolution submitting the budget to the council, Hales says it is the city's first "stabilization" budget after years of cuts due to declining revenues caused by the Great Recession.

Among other things, the resolution says the proposed budget includes an increase of $11.3 million in General Fund revenue. That is less than 3 percent of the discretionary budget, however, Hales says.

Hales says he is proposing to spend the additional funds on programs aimed at three priorities: homelessness and hunger; emergency preparedness; and complete neighborhoods.

Hales' recommendations include: $2.3 million for youth unemployment and more affordable housing; $1.3 million to improve the community emergency notification system and help prepare for regional disasters; and $2 million to expand Schools Uniting Neighborhood in various Portland Public Schools, the East County Action Plan, and other livability programs; $1 million to continue an Innovation Fund begun in the current budget; and a $3 million contingency fund to be used only for real emergencies and unforeseen costs.

Hales is also proposing to continue city support for youth TriMet passes, summer internships with the city, the Earl Boyles Early Learning Center, and the Black Male Achievement initiative. He also wants to continue funding the VOZ day laborers' work center, Southeast Works, and the Diversity and Civic Leadership Program.

The proposed budget does not include some funds requested by the Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue. Restoration of some police traffic patrols and money to retain firefighters when a federal grant expires after the coming budget ends did not make the cut.

And Hales' proposed budget does not include additional funds to maintain city streets. He and Transportation Commission Steve Novick are currently working on a street maintenance fee to be submitted to the council and possibly Portland voters later this year.