Budget cuts may leave Portland Parks patrons feeling less than flush, themselves
In a fourth straight year of City of Portland cutbacks due to a slow economy, Portland Parks and Recreation's proposed budget for 2012 to 2013 includes recommendations for saving money by eliminating one management position, closing park restrooms, and removing trash receptacles - along with controversial proposals to close three SUN Community Schools, Buckman Pool, and two community centers.
Submitted for review to Portland's Office of Management and Finance in January, the budget, as requested by Mayor Sam Adams, contains three possible reductions - of four, six, or eight percent. These three budget reduction packages would save $1,752,219, $2,628,328, and $3,504,438, respectively.
'None of us at Portland Parks and Recreation like this budget, or any of the proposed cuts,' Portland Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Mark Ross told THE BEE via e-mail. 'Unfortunately, in order to maintain services for all Portlanders, specific programs may be lost, and the level of maintenance may need to be reduced.'
According to Ross, potential impacts of budget cuts as related to Inner Southeast neighborhoods include:
• Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden would be potentially affected by the Care and Cleaning of Restrooms reduction package, with less cleaning visits per week, open hours reduced, or the complete closing of restrooms.
• Oaks Bottom Trail-head restrooms may be closed.
• Sellwood Park would experience limited impact at four percent budget reduction, but at six percent and eight percent reductions, some of the flowers, landscaping and other care would be reduced. (Sellwood Park is sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, to the tune of $100,000 per year, so it is surprising that any cuts at all are contemplated there.)
• Woodstock Park, Westmoreland Park, and Brooklyn Park would be potentially affected, with restrooms closed, and daily care - including cleaning and trash collection - reduced from every day to just a few times per week. Graffiti cleanup would be limited.
• Sellwood Community Center programs, Woodstock Community Center programs, and Mt. Scott Community Center programs would experience cutbacks in the printing and mailing of program guides, which may adversely impact registration and revenue - although , according to Ross, staff there are working to mitigate potential losses.
• The popular Summer Playgrounds program may be reduced in hours and scope, but it is not expected to be eliminated.
• Crystal Springs Restoration Projects would NOT be impacted by upcoming Parks' budget cuts, however.
Elsewhere in Portland, proposed closings of the Buckman Pool, the Fulton Park Community Center, and the Hillsdale Community Center, have been strongly opposed by citizens.
Portland Parks and Recreation will present its budget to Portland City Council on April 5th, from 3 to 4 pm (there will be no public comment at this presentation).
Then, sometime in April, Mayor Adams' Office will schedule public meetings for comment about the citywide budget cutbacks, in anticipation of deep cuts to federal programs impacting services provided by the City, high unemployment, and lower property tax revenue due to falling housing prices.
Information on the city budget and scheduled public meetings can be found online at: www.portlandonline.com/omf/index.cfm?c=26061
A final decision on the budget will be made in May.