Portland announces huge surplus before budget adjustment
An unexpected revenue windfall will likely cause Portland bureaus to ask for more money from the City Council in coming days.
The City Budget Office announced the city has a $62 million general fund surplus on Friday, Oct. 8. The announcement came after bureaus had only requested $5.7 million in additional funds as part of the Fall Budget Monitoring Process that is now underway.
Under existing city policies, half the surplus can be spent during the so-called Fall BUMP. Mayor Ted Wheeler has until Oct. 18 to submit an ordinance with all the spending requests. Some bureaus are likely to submit additional requests before then.
Wheeler and the other council members have already agreed to spend a little over $1 million to expand the Portland Street Response program citywide. It is a non-police alternative to 911 calls that is being tested in the Lents Neighborhood.
Wheeler has also said he wants the Portland Police Bureau to rehire up to 80 officers who are scheduled to retire before July 1, the start of the next fiscal year. The bureau has not yet requested the additional funds to do that.
The budget office has recommended just over $14 million in increased spending, including $8.5 million for future liabilities. Other large recommendations include:
• $1.9 million to upgrade the Portland Metro Levee System
• $500,000 for the creation of a Citywide Legal Priorities Reserve
• $490,684 in the Office of Management & Finance Bureau of Human Resources for 5.0 limited term recruiting positions
• $204,767 in the Office of Management & Finance Bureau of Revenue and Financial Services for a General Fund true-up for the Integrated Tax System
• $300,000 to help support partnerships with Community-Based Organizations with technical assistance navigating the city's grant and procurement processes
• $260,000 in Portland Fire & Rescue for fire station security, $1,081,080 from policy set aside to increase Portland Street Response service availability, and $300,509 for limited term inspectors
After Wheeler submits the ordinance, the council will hold a work session on Oct. 19, a public hearing on Oct. 27, and take the final vote that same day.
The current total city budget approved by the council is $5.7 billion.
The budget office said most of the surplus is the result of higher-than-expected business license tax revenues.
"While this is an abnormally large amount of excess balance, it is in line with recent experiences of other government jurisdictions such as the State and Multnomah County. The City Budget Office forecasts revenues conservatively during the course of the year, and the pandemic was an 'off-model' event that ubiquitously presented forecasting challenges to economists," the office wrote in an executive summary of the projection.
More information can be found on the budget office's website at www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.