PORTLAND — City residents and the City Council are about to embark on an unprecedented — and constrained — process to write and adopt next year's budget.
"These are highly unusual and uncertain times," said City Budget Office Director Jessica Kinard.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions against public gatherings, the traditionally large community meeting to discuss the proposed budget will be conducted remotely for the first time next Tuesday, May 12. Council members will meet from separate locations online. Everyone wishing to testify must apply in advance at the City Budget Office's website, which can be found at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo.
The online meeting will be held and shown from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the council's website and Channel 30, the community access TV channel. If more people register than the time allows, they will be selected randomly. Their testimony will be heard audibly only by those watching the meeting.
Comments also will be accepted through a special online email form on the budget office's website.
All prior and subsequent council work sessions and meetings on the budget also will be conducted remotely on the council's website, http://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/ 26997.
Despite the changes to city procedures, the council plans to adhere to its traditional schedule for adopting the 2020-21 fiscal year budget that takes effect on July 1. Mayor Ted Wheeler will release his proposed budget this Thursday, May 7, after this issue of the Portland Tribune went to press. The council will revise and authorize the budget by late May. It will be formally adopted by mid-June.
Because of the pandemic, Portland Economist Josh Harwood has estimated the city will lose at least $75 million in previously projected revenue next year. Although the city has received $114 million in emergency federal funding, it is still unclear what that money can be spent on.
The city already has taken a number of steps to save money. Hundreds of seasonal Portland Parks & Recreation employees were either laid off or not hired after the bureau closed playgrounds and community centers. Mayor Ted Wheeler stopped taking his own salary for the rest of the calendar year. All merit raises were frozen in early April, and no cost-of-living raising will be granted to non-union employees after July 1 until further notice. An additional 1,600 full-time employees must take five to 10 days off before Oct. 7.
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