COMMISSIONER JO ANN HARDESTY RESPONDS TO MAYOR'S PROPOSED BUDGET
News Release from Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
Posted on FlashAlert: May 2nd, 2019 3:04 PM
Update - edited to reflect removal of reference to public safety support specialists
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty responds to Mayor Ted Wheeler’s proposed budget with both appreciations and recommendations. Portland Street Response, a priority for Hardesty, is slated to receive a one-time set-aside funding of $500,000. Several key funding requests identified as important to the community, however, were missing or only funded in part, including:
- Fire & rescue staffing,
- Fully funding anti-displacement policies in East Portland,
- Increased funding to Parks & Recreation on a one-time basis to address its structural deficit,
- Robustly funding the city’s 2020 census preparation, and
- Funding technological needs for Open and Accountable elections.
To address this, the Commissioner suggests focusing on several budget items:
- Ending the Gang Enforcement Team (now known as the Gun Violence Reduction Team) and moving those officers back to patrol
- Defunding police body cameras
- Not providing funding for the Frog Ferry Passenger Water Taxi Feasibility Study
- Not providing funding for the James Beard Market
- Not providing funding for the Mt Tabor Historic Preservation work in 2019-20
- Utilizing additional Police vacancy savings on a one-time basis
Most notably, Hardesty recommends ending the Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (formerly known as the Gang Enforcement Team) and moving the 28 officers assigned to the team back to patrol. By Hardesty’s Financial Policy Advisor’s calculations, the Bureau currently has an estimated $6 million in one-time vacancy savings, while the Team receives roughly $7 million in ongoing staff funding.
“Our police force is stretched thin– I don’t think it’s appropriate to continue funding a team that has been shown to racially profile and produce no evidence their tactics were effective in alleviating gang activity,” she says. “Let’s end this program and put those officers back on patrol to fill vacancies, where they’re severely needed. We’d be getting a much-needed bump in patrol officers while addressing the many things the community has been asking for.” Hardesty also adds, “this isn’t about ending policing. This is about intelligently using our resources where they’re best suited for the moment. We know we can’t immediately fill all the projected 120 officer vacancies, so let’s put that savings to good use in the meantime. That money will be right here ready for them when they’re ready to hire.”
Citing the public’s feedback on the budget, Hardesty is not just concerned about her own bureaus. “I’m thankful the proposed budget includes bridge funding for Parks, but based on these numbers cuts will still need to be made. Let’s stretch the police vacancy savings a little further and provide increased bridge funding to address the structural deficit Parks is facing. I’m so grateful for Commissioner Fish’s hard work on such a complex issue – he’s been forced to make some hard choices, and it helps everyone to give council another year to deeply evaluate the bureau’s budget while keeping the places community depends on open and staffed,” she says.
She continues, stressing concern for families, children, elderly, and workers over the sudden news of centers and pools closing and layoffs happening: “Our community and staff depend on these places to be open when we say they’ll be open. Shutting down even one causes everyone undue stress, whether it’s financial or emotional.”
Commissioner Hardesty’s recommendations will be presented as an amendment in a future council session. She welcomes discussion and assessment of her recommendations but emphasizes the city’s ability to fund the requested items with wiggle room.
“A budget is a moral document, and our document is worth $6 billion. We have the resources to do what we need to do to support all Portlanders – it’s just the matter of making the choice to fund services and programs that align with our communities’ values and show we’re listening to what they need and want. When I ran for office I told Portlanders I would not be working in silos. It’s ludicrous to think I’m only going to look out for the bureaus in my portfolio when the budget affects if and how our communities are able to thrive.”