Your City Hall: Calls to revamp city budget likely at public hearing
WHAT IS HAPPENING? The City Council will hold its only public hearing on Mayor Ted Wheeler's recommended budget for the next fiscal year on Wednesday, May 22. This is the hearing where council members can formally propose changes to the budget that was first slightly adjusted after the May 9 public hearing. Several other public forums were also held all over the city on specific and general issues before Wheeler released his proposed budget.
ARE ANY CHANGES EXPECTED TO BE PROPOSED? Yes, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has announced that she will propose big changes how some of the $577.3 million in discretionary general fund dollars are spent. Three involve the Portland Police Bureau, where Hardesty wants to disband the Gang Violence Reduction Team, terminate the program to equip all officers with body cameras, and end the program to hire non-armed orricers to assist on patrols.
In addition, Hardesty wants to delay funding the restoration of the historic Mt. Tabor reservoirs, cancel the creation of the James Beard Market, and not fund a feasibility study water taxi service on the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
Hardesty has proposed using the savings to close the projected $6.3 million shortfall in the Portland Parks & Recreation budget, where 56.3 positions could be eliminated.
Most of those employees have the right to apply to transfer to positions in other bureaus, however. Although no employees are guaranteed new positions, the city is working with them to see what other openings exist in other bureaus.
DOES A MAJORITY OF THE COUNCIL SUPPORT HARDESTY'S PROPOSALS? When Hardesty brought most of them up during a May 14 work session on the budget, no other council member specifically supported any other, although Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said she has some concerns about how the police bureau has prioritized its spending. Parks Commissioner Nick Fish said the proposed budget will allow the parks bureau to transition to more stable financing. Commissioner Amanda Fritz does not usually say how she will vote on any issue ahead of time.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE? Information on the proposed and recommended budgets are available on the City Budget Office's website at www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo. Hardesty's amendments had not been released by press time.
WHAT CAN I DO? You can testify on the recommended budget Wednesday, May 22, in the Council Chambers of City Hall at 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave., Portland. The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Council members also are accepting feedback at their offices. You can find contact information for them at www.portlandoregon.gov.
The public can also to testify on the budget at the Tax Supervising and Conversation Committee hearing after the council vote on June 11, and then again June 12 when council formally adopts it.