Portland may borrow $100 million to fight COVID-19
The City Council will consider selling $100 million in revenue bonds to temporarily help fund Portland's response to the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday, April 8.
The ordinance authorizing the sale does not detail how the funds will be spent. Permitted uses are defined broadly, according to a financial impact statement that accompanies the ordinance.
The bonds must be repaid within two years, although that deadline can be extended. They can be repaid from a variety of city revenue sources, including property taxes and fees, the statement says.
City officials predict efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus will reduce city revenues by $100 million by April, The Oregonian has reported. The city currently has $60 million in unspent general fund reserves, $30 million of which can be spent on emergencies, the statement said.
"Because the impact of the emergency on the city and the Portland community is not fully known at this time, it is uncertain whether the general fund reserve can provide sufficient resources to address city needs," the statement says.
The bond sale is just one of several responses Portland and other governments are taking to help offset the costs of fighting the pandemic. The city has also laid off 950 employees, most of them temporary Portland Parks & Recreation workers. Metro, the elected regional government, has announced it will lay off 40% of its employees, primarily because of declining revenues formerly generated by its visitor facilities, such as the Oregon Zoo, which are now closed.
In contrast, the State of Oregon and Multnomah County have not yet formally announced any layoffs or other spending cuts. Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the county is studying options but has not reached any decisions on Friday, April 3.
You can read the Portland ordinance and financial impact statement here.
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