1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204
Today, City Council unanimously approved the partnership with the State and EPA. It's an important milestone in the cleanup of a 10-mile stretch of the Portland Harbor.
The partnership establishes a trust fund that will enable the City to meet its fiscal obligations for the design phase in a thoughtful, responsible way – while increasing legal certainty. It's also intended to encourage other parties to come to the table, but will not subsidize private parties or absolve them of their liability.
Today, the State of Oregon and City of Portland announced a new, unique partnership that will help move the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup forward.
In December, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the entire Portland Harbor Superfund site needed to meet significant milestones toward the next phase of the cleanup by the end of 2019. This phase, called Remedial Design, is when scientists and engineers design the technical elements and work plans for the cleanup.
In response to EPA, the State and City proposed an innovative approach that efficiently leverages public investment to encourage private parties to begin design work. EPA has signaled their support of the concept.
Under the proposal, the State and City will form a trust, administered by EPA, which will provide funds to private parties who sign agreements with EPA to generate cleanup plans. EPA will credit the State and City for their cleanup responsibilities for each dollar spent from the Trust.
The State and City will each contribute up to $12 million to the trust, for a total of up to $24 million. Private parties who agree to the terms set by the EPA, State, and City will receive $80,000 per acre to help fund design work. The private parties remain responsible for all costs above and beyond $80,000 per acre.
By pooling and capping public resources, the public trust funds will be spent on actual cleanup design work as opposed to administrative costs associated with negotiating with other parties at multiple locations, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public dollars.
This is a creative approach among Superfund sites, and represents a major step forward toward a clean, safe Willamette River.
This evening, Council approved the City Budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. In June, City Council will formally adopt the budget. Nick's full statement during the vote is below:
Thank you, Mayor.
And thank you for introducing this year’s new budget process. It required us to think about bureaus and their budgets in a new way, and to build the budget from the ground up.
I’m pleased to support this budget. The process was collaborative – and ultimately, this budget is responsive to community concerns, and reflects our shared priorities as a Council.
It also advances a number of my priorities, including:
• Significant investments in supportive housing, including funding for deep rental subsidies and services for people struggling with homelessness, mental health challenges, and addiction.
• Continued support for brownfield remediation, our work to convert contaminated land into productive community use.
• Funding for the Portland Film Office, which supports film production in Portland.
• Seed funding to support the Albina Vision, a community-driven plan for re-developing the Rose Quarter and repairing the damage done by urban renewal.
• Establishing the Age-Friendly Coordinator position in the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to guide the City’s work on age-friendly services and practices.
• Launching a Dark Skies initiative, also in the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, to reduce urban light pollution.
• And support for the Portland Rose Festival – our official festival.
The budget includes significant one-time funding for the Parks bureau to continue summer programming, to keep Columbia Pool open for another year, and to transition other spaces to new models.
And the Parks bureau will also receive much-needed ongoing funds for operations and maintenance of new parks and playgrounds, including many in East Portland.
Thank you, Mayor Wheeler, for your partnership and for your vital support of our Parks in this budget.
I want to acknowledge that there were no easy fixes for the $6.3 million structural gap Parks faced. One-time funds are not a solution. They would only extend the problem for another year, allowing it to grow and worsen.
It would be a disservice to the community, to Parks employees, and to Council’s stated goals of equity, affordability, and fiscal responsibility to avoid addressing the root cause of the budget gap – the bureau’s business model.
The bureau and its Budget Advisory Committee put together a thoughtful, balanced approach to closing the $6.3 million gap. They prioritized equity, long-term financial sustainability, safety, and maintenance.
And with the one-time support in this budget, the transition will be on a timeline that continues summer programming and provides additional time for the bureau, workforce, and community to plan for the future.
To our workforce: this budget affects 50 people and includes potential layoffs of deeply valued colleagues.
Parks and Human Resources are working closely with each affected person. Our goal is to help affected people find other positions at the City.
Parks has shared with me that half of the people affected as of July 1 will be moving to other positions within the Parks bureau.
For those we can’t retain at the City, Parks is providing support including:
• Career counseling, interview coaching, skill assessments, and resume and cover letter help – both in workshops and one-on-one.
• Thanks to our partners at the Bureau of Human Resources, a new initiative to prioritize affected employees for hiring in certain classes Citywide – affected Parks employees are specifically invited to participate.
• Onsite Employee Assistance Program support and referrals to health coaches and a wide variety of wellness programs.
Colleagues, I am committed to continuing the hard work of stabilizing the Parks bureau and building toward a sustainable future. That includes looking at new models for funding and delivering services. I will have more to say about this important effort later.
Mayor Wheeler, thank you again for your leadership and collaboration on this year’s budget.
Thanks also to my colleagues, to my bureau leadership teams, and to my City Hall team.
I vote aye.
Today, Nick was honored to speak at the City's second Project SEARCH intern graduation.
Nick launched our partnership with Project SEARCH in October 2017. Project SEARCH helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities gain meaningful workplace experience and employment. The pilot program created five internship positions in the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Water Bureau. The interns became valued members of the bureau teams and gained valuable work experience.
Based on the success of the pilot, and the City’s commitment to being a model employer, we significantly expanded the program this year. Now, the City offers both internships and paid positions for qualified candidates and includes opportunities in two additional bureaus – the Bureau of Human Resources and Parks.
Special thanks to our outstanding interns for their work, staff at the Bureau of Human Resources for helping to expand the program, especially Anais Keenon, and Mer Stevens and Ashton Davenport from Community Access Services for their ongoing partnership.