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The county chair summarizes the budget shortfall at the end of a Portland City Council work session.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Many businesses in Portland and Multnomah County cannot reopen without state approval.Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said Thursday that the county needs about $45 million more to meet state requirements for reopening the economy.

Portland has received $114 million in federal funds compared to $28 million for the county. Throughout the nation, the federal money has been given to cities to help get past the pandemic. But in Oregon, it's counties, not cities, that handle most public health work.

Kafoury made the comment during the end of a May 21 Portland City Council work session on the county's plans for meeting the Oregon Health Authority requirements to apply for Phase 1 reopening, in the wake of the pandemic and quarantine. If approved by the state, that would allow such currently shuttered businesses as restaurant dining rooms and hair dressers to reopen with new restrictions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Kafoury told the council that the county estimates it needs $75 million to hire enough contract tracers and have enough additional sheltering capacity to meet the state requirements. She said the county has identified around $30 million in funding, leaving a $45 million shortfall.

All other counties in the state have either applied for, or have been approved for, Phase 1 reopening.

Although Kafoury did not make a formal request, Wheeler said the council will discuss the county's needs when it considers how to spend the emergency federal stimulus funds it has received. A work session is set for the morning of Tuesday, May 26.

You can read a related Portland Tribune story on the issue here.


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