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Bureau of Transportation forecasts $16M in cuts for next year

November 1, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact:

Dan Anderson

503-823-3723

dan.anderson@portlandoregon.gov

 

Bureau of Transportation forecasts $16M in cuts for next year

 

PORTLAND,Ore.-- Today, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced that a projected $16 million in ongoing cuts will be needed to balance its fiscal year 2012-2013 budget.

The single largest source ofPortland’s transportation funding is state gas tax receipts. The Oregon Department of Transportation’s projections for these funds have been significantly above what is actually collected over the past five years due to reduced travel as a result of the ongoing recession. PBOT relies on ODOT’s projections to make budget decisions.

In the face of lower-than-projected gas tax receipts, the Bureau of Transportation must make permanent, significant cuts to match expenditures to revenues. Impending cuts come on the heels of a decade of transportation cuts for the city. Its discretionary budget currently stands at $100 million a year. (Discretionary funds are separate from federal and state grant funds, which are received for specific purposes and must be spent on those projects.)

Several factors have combined to reduce the overall number of gallons of gasoline being purchased: increased fuel-efficiency in vehicles, higher fuel prices, a declining number of vehicles registered inMultnomahCountyand an overall reduction in driving due to high unemployment. The result is less available funding to meet the city’s transportation needs.

“Today we are faced with two interrelated challenges,” said PBOT Director Tom Miller. “We must provide basic transportation services even as we make strategic choices aboutPortland’s transportation future. And we are forced to do it all with an ever-shrinking number of dollars.”

Although the Oregon Legislature approved a six cent per gallon gas tax increase in 2009, that increase has not kept pace with the need to improve transportation access for all Portlanders and keep roads and bridges safe. Emergency landslide repairs onSW Sam Jackson Park RoadandSW Broadway Drive, sidewalk construction in East and Southwest Portland and funds to help reconstructMultnomahCounty’s agingSellwoodBridgehave further strained the city’s resources. Notwithstanding the 2009 increase,Oregonhas a lower gas tax than neighboringWashingtonandCalifornia.

As in previous years, PBOT will work closely with its Citizen Budget Advisory Committee to analyze potential cut packages. In addition, the bureau encourages citizens to send in questions, comments and suggestions to pbotbudget@portlandoregon.gov.

Filling these budget gaps will require that cuts be permanent and ongoing – as opposed to one-time spending cuts that expire once revenues rebound – that will fundamentally restructure the organization. Director Miller has pledged to actively pursue more stable funding sources, stating, “PBOT will do what the public expects us to do: manage a safe and efficient transportation system that keepsPortlandmoving. We will keep Portlanders informed and engaged as we make tough decisions for the coming year.”

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