MONDAY, JULY 29, 2013 – Mayor Charlie Hales has begun talks with leadership of Multnomah County on the topic of services: Who is in charge, and who pays for them?
The issue came up as both the city and county were crafting their budgets for 2013-14. Especially in light of the city’s efforts to address the multi-million-shortfall for this year.
“If you drive from East Portland to West Portland, likely you travel on a city-owned street, over a county-owned bridge, onto another city-owned street,” Mayor Hales said. “A county fire-patrol boat might pass beneath you on the Willamette, heading north, with a city fire boat heading south. And the homeless adult you pass on the bridge is the city’s concern, while the homeless youth you pass is the county’s concern. Does this make sense to anyone?”
Since 1984, the City of Portland and Multnomah County have operated under an agreement about who does what. But after three decades, the lines have become blurred. An audit this year showed that the old agreement does not provide a comprehensive listing of the core, basic services of the city and county.
Hales has begun working with the Multnomah County Commission to craft a new understanding of city/county roles. In short: To define “who does what” and “who pays for it.”
“Together, we can bring this essential understanding of how we function into the 21st century,” he said.