Budget Work Sessions Begin
TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 2015 — Interested in the Portland 2015-16 budget? A budget work session is streaming live now: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/article/230361
To participate in the budget process:
- Attend or watch the live stream of meetings. Here's the calendar: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/515782.
- Send written testimony on proposed budgets to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Provide general feedback about the budget on an online form: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/61969.
Strong Economy, Fiscal Management Results in Rosy Revenue Forecast for City
TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2015 – A projected revenue forecast for the City of Portland suggests the city could have more than $30 million in excess ongoing and one-time resources for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
“Nearly every economic factor is moving in the right direction,” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “Now is the time to prudently invest this additional revenue in basic services.”
The independent City Budget Office will release the March economic update on Tuesday, March 17. The final 2015-16 forecast will be released in late April and the projected numbers likely could change between then and now.
“This news comes about due to a combination of a booming economy plus prudent decisions made by this council at the tail-end of the last recession,” Hales said. Those decisions included cutting more than $20 million in ongoing expenses in 2013-14; paying off some of the city’s debt; and restructuring the Urban Renewal Areas to add $1.5 million to this year’s budget.
Andrew Scott, budget director for the city, and Josh Harwood, city economist, cited several positive trends, including:
● Inflation and health benefit costs remain low.
● Business license and transient lodging taxes are growing rapidly and likely will reach record highs this fiscal year.
● Housing values continue to grow, undoing some of the property tax compression the city experienced over the last few years.
The estimates released this week includes $11.5 million in ongoing funds and $19.6 million in one-time funds, for a total of $31.1 million.
The city’s budget breaks down into two general categories: ongoing funds and one-time funds. Ongoing funds are expected to recur every year and most often are used for expenses such as personnel and programs. One-time funds are available only once and most often are used for discrete projects such as construction and renovation.
City Releases Five-Year General Fund Forecast
FRIDAY, DEC. 19, 2014 -- The Portland City Budget Office today released the preliminary five-year General Fund forecast for fiscal years 2015-16 through 2019-20.
With an economy that is finally growing at levels normally seen during economic expansions, CBO estimates that in FY 2015-16 Portland will have an additional $4.6 million of ongoing resources – about 1 percent – and an additional $14.4 million in one-time resources.
This forecast represents the second consecutive year that the City is forecasting a surplus. "We are in this position now because of the improving economy, and also because Council made hard decisions over the last few years to cut spending and keep the budget balanced," said Andrew Scott, city budget director. "The additional ongoing resources will only be able to restore a small portion of what was cut, but the economic expansion is providing the City with significant one-time resources that can help address long-standing capital and maintenance needs."
The economic trends extend well beyond Portland, said Josh Harwood, city economist. "The most recent economic data are showing faster growth, both nationally and locally," Harwood said. "While our revenue streams currently reflect this robust growth pattern, we don’t expect this level of growth for all five years of the forecast. The City should make prudent investments now that put us in a better position to weather the next economic downturn."
Mayor Charlie Hales praised the work of the City Budget Office, as well as that of his fellow elected officials.
“We’ve taken steps to be fiscally prudent, like paying down debt, slashing the ongoing use of one-time funds, and redrawing Urban Renewal Areas, which put more land back on the tax rolls,” Hales said. “All of that has helped get us to this: an estimated 1 percent in additional, ongoing resources. That doesn’t mean it’s time to radically grow government. Good times don’t last forever, the next recession will hit eventually, and the city needs to remain prudent.”
The December Forecast serves as the preliminary budget planning forecast for the City’s General Fund. This forecast will be updated in late April 2015 prior to City Council adopting the FY 2015-16 budget. The full document can be found here on the City Budget Office website.
Council Approves Mayor's Supplemental Budget, Funding Valuable Organizations and Programs
THURSDAY, NOV. 13, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales has used the fall supplemental budget to provide $11.1 million of support for early education, arts, parks, and police programs that are aimed at building public trust.
“These one-time expenditures will provide tremendous benefits to valuable organizations, services, and programs in our city,” Hales said. “They highlight and enhance my work to expand opportunity to all Portlanders, make the city livable for all residents, and police reform and mental health.”
Last year’s budget adjustment paid down millions in debt and supported programs for the homeless. This year’s $11.1 million package, approved by City Council on Nov. 12, came from unspent resources from last fiscal year, with $1 million from contingency. The unspent resources weren’t “found money”; rather, they were a result of conservative revenue forecasts and budgeted spending.
“Ten million represents only about 1 percent of the general fund revenue and expenses, so we were actually pretty close,” City Economist Josh Harwood said. “You don’t want to guess too far in either direction. This is right where we want to be, in good times and in bad.”
Of the $73 million in capital and new requests, $11.1 million were funded, including:
- Building public trust in police: $351,152 will create six analyst positions to implement police reforms, part of the ongoing effort to build widespread community trust in the police bureau.
- Mental Health Specialist: $75,000 will fund a mental health specialist position in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement that will assist in police reform and city interactions with people in mental health crisis.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Order Team: $193,214 added two officers and a sergeant to the police team that enforces domestic violence restraining orders.
- Bureau of Development Service: $110,942 for the Extremely Distressed Properties and Nuisance Abatement programs, enhancing the city's ability to respond to nuisance home complaints.
- East Portland: $300,000 for a new master plan for eastside parks, and $100,000 for Venture Portland, with a focus on outreach to small businesses on the eastside — part of the mayor's effort to expand prosperity to all Portlanders.
- PPS/Concordia Early Childhood Learning Project: $100,000 will help the early learning program in Concordia’s age 3 to Ph.D. initiative, supporting quality education. The mayor previously budgeted $100,000 for the Earl Boyles Early Works program.
- Zenger Farm: $100,000 toward a roof for the new Zenger Farm Urban Grange structure that will house community and educational programs.
- Halprin Fountains: $200,000 for renovation of the historic parks in downtown Portland. Supporters have raised an estimated $2.1 million already to restore the fountains, and the city’s contribution will help restore the fountains, parks and adjacent space.
- Leaky roof: $1.95 million to repair the roof of an older Bureau of Emergency Communications building, part of being a good landlord.
- Transportation: $890,000 of general fund money went to the Bureau of Transportation for bridge and structure repairs, and $890,000 for signals and street lights. The mayor hopes other maintenance, paving and safety improvement funds will come from the proposed street fund.
- Regional Arts and Culture Council: $600,000 to support the organization, which provides grants to artistic nonprofits and artists. From the executive director, Eloise Damrosch:
On behalf of all of us at the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the dozens of arts organizations who benefit from the Arts Education and Access Fund, and the voters who passed the ballot measure thank you for helping to close the funding gap. I know that there was plenty of competition for these dollars and I so appreciate your decision to move forward with this important action.
Hopefully the gap will continue to diminish in the years ahead and the arts community will strengthen as a result of new and sustainable General Operating Support funding.
Thank you for your leadership,
- Emergency preparedness: The Council also approved the mayor’s proposal to debt finance repairs to the city’s fuel infrastructure, including $9.7 million to replace five existing fuel stations; $3.1 million for a new fueling station at the Jerome Sears Building on the westside; and $800,00 for an additional emergency fuel site in East Portland.
Mayor Charlie Hales Releases Conservative Plan for Fall Budget Adjustment, Preview of Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget
PORTLAND, ORE. – An improving economy, plus fiscally conservative decisions last year, mean the City of Portland heads into the second half of the year in excellent financial shape. On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss plans for $10.1 million of unspent resources from last fiscal year, as well as receive a preview of the December General Fund Financial Forecast.
The $10.1 million isn’t, “ ‘found money,’” Mayor Charlie Hales said. “This is what happens when the economy is good and the city’s budget-writers guess conservatively, as we asked them to do at the start of the summer.”
“Ten million represents only about 1 percent of the general fund revenue and expenses, so we were actually pretty close,” City Economist Josh Harwood said. “You don’t want to guess too far in either direction. This is right where we want to be, in good times and in bad.”
Despite the good economic news, Hales released a proposed supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2014-15 that will adhere to his guidelines: “We need to be smart and conservative with people’s money, with a focus on equity and public safety,” he added.
A City Council work session is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave., Portland. The meeting is open to the public but public testimony will not be taken at this hearing. Staff of the City Budget Office will run through the reports on the city’s economic situation, and will outline the Budget Monitoring Report for the 2014-15 budget.
Looking ahead, the FY 2015-16 budget also will benefit from three factors:
● Increased revenue as a result of the improved economy.
● For the second year in a row, Mayor Hales has proposed a plan to pay down city debt early, which frees up additional resources.
● Mayor Hales last year revamped much of the city’s Urban Renewal Areas, which put an estimated $1 billion back on the tax rolls and immediately added $1.5 million to the city’s coffers, without going to taxpayers for additional money. The URA changes also resulted in an immediate cash influx for Multnomah County and the Common School Fund.
Andrew Scott, director of the City Budget Office, will present the budget picture to the City Council this morning. “Though many things can change between now and when the budget is written in the spring, the City Budget Office believes that there will be a modest amount of ongoing resources totaling around $5 million available for FY 2015-16,” Scott said. “Meanwhile, there should be one-time resources available, likely in excess of $10 million.”
Mayor Hales urged bureaus and City Commissioners to focus budget changes on:
● Equity and Opportunity: Bolstering economic and housing opportunity for all Portlanders, as well as equity in service delivery.
●Complete Neighborhoods: Extending Portland’s livability to more areas of the city.
● Emergency Preparedness: Equipping bureau operations and our citizens to better withstand a disaster.
“Fairness and safety,” Hales said. “Those are the pillars for this fall’s budget talks. I’ve asked every bureau and every office to focus on those things.”
DETAILS OF MAYOR’S PROPOSED SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET
Over the past couple of months, requests for new funds in the fall supplemental budget have far outstripped the actual $10.1 million. The City Budget Office has collected more than $45 million in capital projects, and more than $28 million for new requests.
“The budget writers and I are saying ‘no’ to a lot more projects than we say ‘yes’ to,” Hales added. “These are relatively good times, economically. But such times still call for smart, conservative spending of taxpayer dollars.”
On Tuesday, the City Council will hear details of the mayor’s proposed budget changes that include:
● $1.94 million to repair the roof of an older Bureau of Emergency Communications building.
● $1 million of general fund money to go into the Bureau of Transportation for bridge and structure repairs. Also, $1 million for signals and street lights. “We will be asking Portlanders to pay a street fee for safety and maintenance. It was important to put some of our General Fund money into the effort as well,” Hales said.
Those three projects mean nearly $4 million of the $10.1 million is earmarked for capital projects.
The mayor’s proposed budget changes also include:
● Bureau of Development Services: Approximately $160,000 for the Extremely Distressed Properties and Nuisance Abatement programs.
● East Portland: $300,000 for a new master plan for eastside parks. And $100,000 for Venture Portland, with a focus on outreach to small businesses on the eastside.
● DOJ settlement implementation: More than $350,000 will create six analyst positions to implement the settlement that outlines police reforms, part of the ongoing effort to adhere to the letter and spirit of the agreement.
● Halprin Fountains: $500,000 for renovation of the historic parks in downtown Portland. Supporters have raised an estimated $2.1 million already to restore the fountains, and the city will use its $500,000 to help restore the fountains, parks and adjacent space.
● Emergency preparedness: The Mayor is proposing that Council adopt a comprehensive solution to the City’s aging fuel station infrastructure, including $9.7 million to replace five existing fuel stations; $3.1 million for a new fueling station at the Jerome Sears Building on the West side; and $800,00 for an additional emergency fuel site in East Portland.
“These are vital emergency needs,” Hales said. He will propose issuing bonds to pay for all of the projects. “Our budget-writers are convinced this is the right path forward, and I agree.”
Mayor Makes Equity a Priority for Fiscal Year 2015-16 City Budget
TUESDAY, OCT. 21, 2014 – Mayor Charlie Hales announced last week to City Bureau Directors that equity is one of three specific priorities in preparing the City’s Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget.
Hales said he will focus any new General Fund resources on requests that make measureable progress in one or more of the following areas:
- Equity and Opportunity: bolstering economic and housing opportunity for all Portlanders, as well as equity in service delivery
- Complete Neighborhoods: extending Portland’s vaunted livability to more areas of the City
- Emergency Preparedness: equipping bureau operations and our citizens to better withstand a disaster
“I am excited and encouraged that Mayor Hales is prioritizing equity in the City’s budget process,” said Dante James, Office of Equity and Human Rights director. “Tying equity to City bureaus’ budgets ensures that leaders are considering the impacts of their programs and policies on all Portlanders. It’s another positive step to institutionalizing this work within Portland city government.”
Effective last fiscal year, bureaus are required to use a Budget Equity Assessment Tool developed by the Office of Equity and Human Rights in preparing their budgets. The tool guides bureau leaders and their Budget Advisory Committees to determine how budget requests or decisions benefit and/or burden communities, specifically communities of color and people with disabilities.
Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights provides education and technical support to City staff and elected officials, leading to recognition and removal of systemic barriers to fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity; starting with issues of race and disability.
Mayor Issues Budget Guidance for 2015-16 Budget
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 15, 2014 — Mayor Charlie Hales today issued budget guidance to city bureau directors and budget managers calling for stabilization budgets that focus resource requests on equity and opportunity, complete neighborhoods, and emergency preparedness.
“We find ourselves today in a place of relative fiscal stability,” Hales says. “While this is good news for the City, I want to ensure we take advantage of the current economic situation to make wise, fiscally prudent investments. Portland’s strong economy has been a key economic driver for the state, but the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, wage growth remains flat, and those most in need are benefitting the least.
“As we look ahead to this and future City budgets, I want to ensure that City resources are allocated to the programs that have a direct impact on the lives of our citizens,” Hales continues. “That we focus on maintaining the assets and infrastructure that we currently own, and that we continue to invest in new ideas that will maintain Portland’s place as a leader in innovative urban policy.”
Read the full budget guidance document here: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/506932?
City Council Passes Mayor Charlie Hales' Budget for 2014-15
WEDNESDAY, MAY 28, 2014 – The Portland City Council on Wednesday passed Mayor Charlie Hales’ budget for 2014-15. The $3.58 billion budget passed on a 5-0 vote.
“Last year we righted the ship. This year, we begin steering it toward addressing the issues of homelessness, emergency preparedness and making neighborhoods complete,” Hales said.
Details of the budget can be found at the City Budget Office website. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/64964
The budget must be approvied by the Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission of Multnomah County, then returns to the City Council for final adoption in June.
This is Portland’s first “stabilization” budget after years of cuts.
Hales has been in office just 17 months. During that time, he and the council passed a budget that eradicated last year’s $21.5 million shortfall; cut 142 full-time equivalent positions; retained the city’s best-in-the-nation bond rating; set aside funding to pay down millions of dollars in city debt; and made the city’s first-ever substantial revamping of Urban Renewal Areas, which put an estimated $1.06 billion worth of property back on the tax rolls, benefiting the city, Multnomah County and public schools.
This year, the city has slightly more than $9 million in discretionary funds to allocate, above the cost of ongoing city services. This revenue growth includes $4.6 million in ongoing funds, and $4.7 million in one-time funds. Hales focused much of that discretionary funding on his three priorities.
He allocated $2.25 million for homelessness, including $1 million for more outreach, referral and permanent housing for those now homeless and programs for youth homelessness. An additional $1 million would go for the Housing Investment Fund, which leverages federal and other money to build more units of affordable housing.
He allocated $1.42 million for emergency preparedness, including funds for improving the community emergency notification system and regional disaster preparedness. The budget calls for a $1.2 million investment in the Jerome Sears Facility, to begin developing the city-owned property into a West Side emergency operations facility.
And he allocated $2.25 million to help make neighborhoods complete, including new and ongoing funding for the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods, or SUN, program. Additional SUN Schools under the Mayor’s proposal include adding 10 new schools to the 70 SUN schools operating now, and providing permanent funding for five sites that faced expiring grants.
The budget also includes funding for the East Portland Action Plan and key investments in livability programs in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
The approved budget includes:
● Continued funding for the TriMet Youth Pass for Portland Public School students.
● Summer internships for youths.
● Funds to support survivors of sex trafficking.
● Funding for the Earl Boyles Early Learning Center in East Portland.
● The Mayor’s Black Male Achievement initiative.
● The Diversity and Civic Leadership Program within the Office of Neighborhood Involvement.
● Funding for Southeast Works.
● A VOZ day laborers’ work center.
● The annual Symphony in the Park celebration.
● Additional funding for the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
● An equity position within Portland Police, to manage operations and activities designed to increase diversity, equity, empowerment, inclusion and cultural proficiency of the Police Bureau.
The most ambitious element of the mayor’s budget is the critical re-thinking of urban renewal areas: sectors of the city set aside to address blight. Under Oregon law, a city may draw boundaries around urban renewal areas, temporarily freeze property taxes that go to other governments, and use any incremental property tax revenue growth to stimulate development and investment. When urban renewal areas expire, the property tax value of their enhanced developments then flow back to the city, county, schools and other taxing jurisdictions.
By eliminating and shrinking urban renewal areas, the mayor’s budget returns an estimated $1.06 billion onto the tax rolls, and provides approximately $5 million to the city, county and school budgets this year, growing to approximately $6 million in 2015-16.
That proposal breaks down to an immediate increase of an estimated $1.5 million into the city’s 2014-15 budget – almost 17 percent of the additional $9 million in new discretionary funds, without raising taxes.
Another centerpiece of the Mayor’s budget is the city/county agreement crafted by Mayor Hales and Marissa Madrigal, chair of the Multnomah County Commission. Hales credits Madrigal’s strong leadership for making the accord work.
The City Council will hold the first hearing for ordinances that adopt solid waste collection, water, sewer and storm water recycling rates for fiscal year 2014-15. The utility rate hearing is 2 p.m. Thursday, May 22, in the Council Chamber, City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave. It is open to the public.
The City Council is expected to vote on the mayor’s approved budget by the end of May. The 2014-15 fiscal year starts July 1.
Proposed Budget for 2014-15: From Damage Control to Good Governance
THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2014 – Portland Mayor Charlie Hales releases his proposed budget for 2014-15 today. This is the city’s first “stabilization” budget after years of cuts, and reflects the Mayor’s values, including long-range fiscal planning, transparency and other good-governance policies.
Having eradicated last year’s massive shortfall, and having set aside funds to pay off city debt in fall 2013, this year the Mayor’s proposed budget includes initiatives aimed at three investment priorities: homelessness and hunger; emergency preparedness; and complete neighborhoods. Investments also address critical needs regarding equity, youth services and the environment.
The budget introduces key performance indicators, designed so that city residents can measure the impact of funding decisions.
Last year, the city faced an historic, $21.5 million shortfall. The city had to cut 142 full-time equivalent positions in 2013-14, including cuts to the city’s largest bureaus such as Police and Parks. Having made the cuts, the city went on to retain its AAA bond rating, and in the fall the Council set aside funding to pay down millions of dollars in city debt, freeing up additional funds for years to come without having to go to voters for new taxes.
This year, the city has slightly more than $9 million in discretionary funds to allocate, including $4.6 million in ongoing funds, and $4.7 million in one-time funds.
“We’re in a much stronger position this year. But $9 million represents only a little more than 2 percent of the city’s budget,” Hales said. “Jobs are on the rise in Portland. Our economy is growing stronger. Our livability is the envy of the nation. But we can’t be satisfied. My budget drives all of these positive trends even further.”
The Mayor also has created $1.5 million in additional revenues from revamping urban renewal areas, plus $500,000 of contingency savings from Fiscal Year 2013-14. In total, the Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget will include $11.3 million in discretionary resources above current service level, about 2.7 percent of the budget.
Of the discretionary funds available, the Mayor proposes:
● $2.25 million for homelessness – including $1 million for more outreach, referral and permanent housing for those now homeless and programs for youth homelessness. An additional $1 million would go for the Housing Investment Fund, which leverages federal and other money to build more units of affordable housing.
● $1.27 million for emergency preparedness – including funds for improving the community emergency notification system and regional disaster preparedness. The budget calls for $1.2 million for the Jerome Sears Facility, to further develop the city-owned asset into a West Side emergency operations facility.
● $1.98 million to help make neighborhoods complete – including new and ongoing funding for the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods, or SUN, program. Additional SUN Schools under the Mayor’s proposal include adding 10 new schools to the 70 SUN schools operating now, and providing permanent funding for five sites that faced expiring grants. The proposed budget also includes funding for the East Portland Action Plan and key investments in livability programs in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.
YOUTH AND EQUITY
Beyond SUN Schools, the budget includes a wide array of programs to support young Portlanders. These include continued funding for the TriMet Youth Pass for Portland Public School students, summer internships, funds to prevent sex trafficking, funds for Earl Boyles Early Learning Center, the Greenspaces Restoration & Urban Naturalist Team program for students, and the Mayor’s Black Male Achievement initiative.
The budget sets aside funds for strategic investments in equity, including Black Male Achievement; the Diversity and Civic Leadership Program within the Office of Neighborhood Involvement; funding for Southeast Works; a VOZ day laborers’ work center; and an equity position within Portland Police. That person will direct and manage the operations and activities designed to increase diversity, equity, empowerment, inclusion and cultural proficiency of the Police Bureau.
The budget also dramatically reduces the number of “one time, ongoing” funded projects – projects outside a city bureau, which received funding on a “one-time” basis for two or more years, over and over again. These generally were “good causes” that, once funded, tended to stay around due to budgetary inertia.
“That’s a particularly bad budget-writing habit,” Hales said. “As appropriate, we have turned those special appropriations from one-time to ongoing funds, and we have moved them into bureaus where professional managers can keep an eye on them and be accountable for them.”
Hales began that process last year, during his first budget.
A centerpiece of the Mayor’s budget is the city/county funding deal hammered out by Mayor Hales and Marissa Madrigal, chair of the Multnomah County Commission. “With the Chair’s leadership, we were able to create some true clarity in the respective roles of the city and county. This accord would not have been possible without the Chair’s strong support,” Hales said.
The details of the agreement were reached early, which provided clarity for budget-writers at both the city and the county.
“The city/county agreement helps move both governments into the appropriate lanes of focused responsibilities,” Hales said. “This starts work that has to be continued with the new Chair.”
RE-THINKING URBAN RENEWAL
From early on in his term, Hales began analyzing the use of urban renewal areas – sectors of the city set aside to address blight. Under Oregon law, a city may draw boundaries around urban renewal areas, temporarily freeze property taxes that go to other governments, and use any incremental property tax revenue growth to stimulate development and investment. When urban renewal areas expire, the property tax value of their enhanced developments then flow back to the city, county, schools and other taxing jurisdictions.
Next week, the Council is expected to take up Hales’ proposal, which would return an estimated $1.06 billion onto the tax rolls, and would provide approximately $5 million to the city, county and school budgets this year, growing to approximately $6 million in 2015-16.
That proposal breaks down to an immediate increase of an estimated $1.5 million into the city’s 2014-15 budget – almost 17 percent of the additional $9 million in discretionary funds, without raising taxes.
Multnomah County and Portland-area schools would receive immediate additional funds, thanks to the Mayor’s proposed URA changes.
Finally, the Mayor’s proposed budget will include key performance indicators, designed to track the outcomes of the priority funding. “City residents and the media should be able to come back to us in a year and ask the question: ‘You spent money on these priorities. How did you do?’” Hales said.
The City Council will hold a special budget hearing 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15, at City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave. The City Council is expected to vote on the budget by the end of May. The 2014-15 fiscal year starts July 1.
The city has created an electronic "Suggestion Box" to solicit ideas for the budget.
Audit of Portland Streetcar: City Bears Financial Burden, Operational Risk
THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014 – The City of Portland bears a financial burden and operational risk while relying on outside partners in running the Portland Streetcar, according to an audit released today by City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade.
“We found the City needs to apply more management control to meet its legal and contractual requirements, protect the public interest, and explicitly link the City’s enterprise-wide goals to more detailed Portland Streetcar plans,” Griffin-Valade said.
Mayor Charlie Hales praised the audit and the Auditor’s Office, for the work that went into the report.
The City’s partnership arrangement for Portland Streetcar is complex, according to the audit. The ownership and operations responsibilities are characterized in various ways, even within the City’s own records. Ultimately, Portland Streetcar is owned and operated by the City through the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
“After years of system growth, the City needs to focus on aligning its mission, strategic direction and partnership structure to ensure the success of Portland Streetcar operations,” Griffin-Valade said.
The audit makes several recommendations including that City Council defer future Portland Streetcar system expansion decisions until the Transportation Bureau has developed a Portland Streetcar mission and strategic plan, new contract agreements, and improved transparency in financial reporting.
Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick’s response, and the bureau’s response, are included in the report.
Budget Forums Slated
FRIDAY, APRIL 26 2013 -- The city of Portland will hold three forums to hear citizens’ input on city spending in May, before the City Council adopts the 2013-14 budget.
Mayor Charlie Hales, city commissioners and city staff will listen to residents’ ideas on potential budget cuts and spending increases.
Those will be:
• Thursday, May 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Council Chambers, City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave.
• Saturday, May 18, 3 to 5 p.m., Warner Pacific College, 2219 S.E. 68th Ave.
• Thursday, May 23, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Jackson Middle School, 10625 S.W. 35th Ave.
To review budgets requested by city bureaus: www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/437463
Budget Help: Input sought on ways to save or generate money
MONDAY, FEB. 25 -- The city is looking at a shortfall of at least $25 million. Want to help?
Suggestions are needed on ways to trim money or to generate more revenue. Send suggestions to:
Subject Line: Budget Help
Copies of the proposed budgets are in the link below. The budget calendar can be found by clicking here.
Budget Details Available
THURSDAY, FEB. 28 -- The city has posted information regarding the 2013-14 budget online.
The information includes calendars for budget work sessions as well as the entire budget cycle through the end of the fiscal year. The requested budget for each bureau also is available.
The Portland City Council is beginning the weeks-long process of evaluating the requests and crafting a budget for the new year, which begins July 1.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 6 – Mayor Charlie Hales officially became the commissioner in charge of all Portland Bureaus. For about 90 days, anyway.
And now, the requested budgets for all city bureaus have been released.
“Each bureau crafts its own budgets,” Hales said. “And each bureau has been asked to present a budget at 90 percent of their current funding levels. Next, the City Council comes together to hash out these proposals. Our goal is to find a way out of a $25 million shortfall in the general fund. In that effort: We’re all in this together.”
The City Council will spend the next few months debating the budgets and looking to close a budget shortfall that could exceed initial estimates of $25 million.
Portland has an unusual governance system, in which each member of the City Council directly overseas bureaus. But starting this week, and extending for approximately three months, the council members, will focus on the city budget as a whole, not on selected portions of the city budget.
“We’re going to try this while we craft the next year’s budget,” Hales said. “I want the City Council members sitting together as a ‘board of directors,’ each equally vested in each bureau.”
Bureaus include: Planning and Sustainability; Development Services; Emergency Communications; Parks and Recreation; Police; Fire; and more.
Mayors Vera Katz and Tom Potter also adopted the all-bureaus-under-one-roof approach, at the start of their budget seasons.
“We are facing a general fund shortfall that could be much worse than $25 million,” Hales said. “We have to get our financial house in order.”