BDS submitted its fiscal year (FY) 2015-16 Requested Budget and updated 5-Year Financial Plan to the City Budget Office on February 2nd. These documents provide updates on our financial status and highlight our strategic direction and financial goals.
As in past years, we sought input on our budget decisions from several sources, including employees and stakeholder groups such as the Development Review Advisory Committee (DRAC). A wide variety of suggestions were submitted on ways to enhance staffing and services, improve efficiency, and better harness technology resources. We also met five times with our Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), which was composed of stakeholders, community members, and BDS staff. The BAC met from mid-November through the end of January. Our Requested Budget was endorsed by both the DRAC and the BAC. The BDS Financial Committee, composed of independent economists and industry representatives, endorsed the financial models and projections that formed the basis of our 5-Year Financial Plan.
The Requested Budget reflects our commitment to provide excellent programs and services while operating in a fiscally responsible manner.
Bureau programs that administer (or support) the state-adopted building codes are paid for with permit fees and assessments. Permit revenues comprise approximately 95% of our total revenues.
Since 2011, permit revenues have been recovering and have allowed us to rebuild our financial reserves and add back staff positions to meet increased workload demands as the economy and construction industry has recovered from the recession. Projections of continued workload growth led us to propose adding 19.5 positions in FY 2015-16, all supported by permit fee revenues. Our financial projections demonstrate that sufficient funds will be available to support these positions for several years.
Most of the positions will be added to programs providing direct services to bureau customers, responding to workload increases and gaps in current service levels. Positions will also be added to strengthen the bureau’s community outreach, education, and customer service functions, addressing equity goals and providing an enhanced level of service to customers in the Development Services Center.
Minimal Fee Increases
One of the reasons the DRAC was supportive of our request to add staff is that we have been making a concerted effort to keep fee increases to a minimum. In FY 2013-14, we did not raise fees in several major permit categories and decreased Site Development fees by 5%. In FY 2014-15, we made no fee increases except for the Environmental Soils Program. For FY 2015-16, we have again pledged to make no fee increases except for Environmental Soils.
City Code Enforcement Programs (General Fund-Supported)
Our Neighborhood Inspections and Land Use Services programs administer various sections of Portland City Code. These programs provide significant benefits to the community through supporting public health and safety, neighborhood livability, and property values, and they are paid for with a combination of user fees, fines, and City General Fund monies. These monies comprise the remaining 5% of BDS’s total revenues.
While our permit revenues are strong, State law prohibits us from using those revenues to support programs that enforce local codes. This leaves the Neighborhood Inspections and Land Use Services programs dependent on General Fund support (plus limited fines and user fees) for their continued existence.
The Requested Budget includes four General Fund requests: three for Neighborhood Inspections and one for Land Use Services:
- A Senior Housing Inspector position to implement the Extremely Distressed Properties Enforcement Program (EDPEP). EDPEP is directed toward un-maintained properties (often caused by abandonment due to foreclosures) with chronic nuisance and housing conditions that create risks of fire and public health hazards.
- We asked for EDPEP funding to be continued for FY 2015-16, along with $50,000 for the vacation and demolition of properties.
- Enhanced Inspections – We requested one-time funding for three additional staff positions to support the expansion of the program into North, Northeast, and inner Southeast Portland.
- Nuisance Abatement – This package would add $50,000 in nuisance abatement funds, supporting abatement of all nuisance conditions.
- Land Use Services – We asked for funds for two Limited Term positions in Land Use Services to provide a number of outreach and equity services.
Upcoming next steps in the budget process include:
- March–May – Public budget forums (see http://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/483507)
- March 17 – April 2 – City Council budget work sessions
- Tues. May 12 – Mayor’s Proposed Budget released
- Thu. June 18 – City Council vote on Adopted Budget
- Wed. July 1 – FY 2015-16 Budget goes into effect
For more information about BDS’s budget, contact Mark Fetters with BDS Administrative Services at (503) 823-1028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.