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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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2013-14 Budget FAQ

What is happening with the budget?
The City of Portland is facing a $25 million deficit this year. Several factors have impacted this $25M deficit including the Multnomah County Library District, the recent Department of Justice settlement, and budget notes from the FY 2012-13 Adopted Budget.

Portland Parks & Recreation, along with other City bureaus, is facing its fifth consecutive year of budget cuts. The Mayor and City Council asked all the City's General Fund bureaus - including PP&R - to develop a budget based on 90% of their current budget (the Current Appropriation Level, or CAL). The remaining 10% of bureau budgets will be viewed as the starting point for achieving $25M in necessary reductions.

This is not an easy task. Preparing a budget that is 90% of our Current Appropriation Level is approximately $4.6 million below our 100% funding level.

Please explain what part of the PP&R budget is being reduced?
Everything in the PP&R budget that receives General Fund support is being considered for reduction or elimination. This excludes Portland International Raceway, Portland Public Golf, and most capital improvement projects because they are not supported with General Fund resources.

How do you maintain a great park system with year after year of budget cuts?
We are proud of our Gold Medal park system and we will continue to communicate about the investment it takes to be good stewards of our natural areas, our children's health and recreation, and our community's access to parks. As the economy continues to improve, we can only hope that future years will restore our collective resources and allow us to maintain and grow this incredible system.

How is this budget cycle different than in past years?
For one, due to the recent City elections, the annual budgeting process has begun later than in past years. This process is now underway.

Also, the City of Portland is facing a $25 million deficit this year. Several factors have impacted this $25M deficit including the Multnomah County Library District, the recent Department of Justice settlement, and budget notes from the FY 2012-13 Adopted Budget.

In recent years, City bureaus have been asked to prepare proposed cut packages (last year four, six, and eight percent). This year, the City Council has asked all General Fund Bureaus - including Portland Parks & Recreation - to take a new approach to developing their budgets. As mentioned above, we have been asked to prepare a budget based on 90% of this year's General Fund Current Appropriation Level (CAL). For PP&R, our CAL for FY 2013-14 is approximately $46.2 million, so we will be preparing a budget of approximately $41.6 million. The remaining 10% of bureau budgets will be submitted as "add packages," and viewed as the starting point for achieving the necessary $25M reductions.

The goal of this approach is to submit 90% of our current budget to include programs and services that are most critical to our mission as a bureau. Conversely, it is expected that the 10% add packages will include programs and services that are lower priority, either because they're not part of the bureau's core mission or because they haven't delivered the intended results.

What is the timeline for the budget process?
The budget process starts with the Mayor providing instructions to the bureaus as to how they must prepare their proposed budgets. This usually begins in November; it began in December this year due to the City elections.

PP&R has a Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) whose members represent our labor partners and the Portland Parks Board. In January, we will hold several BAC meetings to collect feedback.

  • January 10 - Room B, 2nd floor, Portland Building
  • January 24 - Southwest Community Center, Multipurpose room
  • January 29 - Peninsula Community Center (room TBD)

All meetings are 7:30-9:30 AM.

Next, we will finalize our requested budget with Commissioner Fish and deliver a "Requested Budget" to the budget office on February 4, 2013.

PP&R will be presenting its budget to Council in mid-February and additional work sessions are scheduled for March. The Mayor and Council will also hear public comments at public meetings. In late April, the Mayor proposes his budget.

In early June, the budget is adopted. The new budget is implemented July 1, 2013.

For the full City budget process, please go to

How will the public be involved?
PP&R's Budget Advisory Committee represents a diverse cross section of the community, including communities of color, traditionally-underrepresented communities, labor partners, environmental interests, social services, architects, business leaders, and more.

In addition, City Council will hold public meetings during the budget process. Public testimony is accepted at all public meetings. These additional forums will be organized throughout the budget process. More info on the process here:

When will we know for sure what is in and what is out of the budget for next fiscal year?
City Council adopts the budget in late May and only at that point will we know the final outcome for the next fiscal year. However, we should have a clearer picture in March or April when the Mayor releases his proposed budget and the City economist releases the next financial forecast.

How are the priorities for cuts determined?
This is the fifth straight year of budget cuts for Portland Parks & Recreation. In order to develop a requested budget that's in line with the City Council's direction, PP&R Director Mike Abbaté is working closely with his management team to lay out our approach. They will start by developing budget guidelines, objectives, and defining our core PP&R services. Next, the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) will review and discuss the proposed budget packages.

Budget Objectives
The BAC will rank and recommend the proposals that will be included in the bureau's budget request. Budget ideas that achieve the following objectives will be viewed most favorably:

  • Maintain equitable access to recreation programming, services, and/or properties and facilities.
  • Maintain our ability to leverage external resources that provide recreational programming or services.
  • Maintain our ability to generate net revenues that are needed to provide recreational programming, services, and/or access to facilities.
  • Limit long-term damage to our properties and facilities.
  • Maintain our ability to implement our Strategic Plan or City Council policies.
  • Maintain our ability to provide adequate public safety.
  • Maintain a public subsidy for services that we are uniquely positioned to provide, and reduce or eliminate the public subsidy for services provided by others, except to maintain access for the most vulnerable populations.

Who will be impacted by cuts?
It is likely that many areas of PP&R, including personnel, will be affected by budget cuts. We will strive to remain true to our core mission and services.

What about reductions to Portland International Raceway or the five City-owned golf courses?
These assets do not receive any General Fund dollars. The raceway (PIR) and the City's golf courses are self-sufficient enterprise funds that generate all the revenues to cover all the costs of their programs. Only General Fund programs or functions are being proposed for reduction or elimination.

Can a partnership of private, nonprofit, and public sector organizations be created to provide funding for programs and services?
Yes. PP&R actively develops and strengthens partnerships with businesses and other organizations so we can leverage resources and provide the highest quality experiences. However, this is not a guaranteed strategy to continue programs and services as each partnership has their own objectives and resources to manage.

Has PP&R considered salary freezes or reductions, furloughs or other cost-saving measures like these?
The Bureau of Human Resources is responsible for any proposals that would reduce, freeze or make other citywide salary reductions.

When someone makes a donation, where does it go?
Donors typically indicate a specific program or use for their contributions. PP&R honors those requests. Most donations are made through the Portland Parks Foundation and not PP&R itself.

How will the cuts be implemented? July 1 is a very busy time in the PP&R system.
PP&R recognizes that some cuts may happen prior to July 1 and some may extend until the end of summer to accommodate programming. However, most reductions will take effect July 1, 2013.

What is the total Portland Parks & Recreation General Fund Budget?
Approximately $46.2 million. For fiscal year 2013-2014 we will be preparing a budget of approximately $41.6 million.

Is the current year's budget available for review?
Yes. Please see the City's Office of Management & Finance website:

I’ve heard talk about a Parks bond. How does that figure into the budget picture?
Portland Parks & Recreation has three funding challenges:

  • Ongoing Operations: We are in our fifth straight year of budget cuts for the operations and maintenance of parks. This year, we face a potential 10% cut to operations and maintenance as part of the City’s budget process as described above.
  • Long-term Maintenance: PP&R also has significant deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs. All assets have an expected lifespan of service, and some of our assets have to be repaired constantly, or have failed and have been taken out of service because the asset has expired. To keep providing the service Portlanders enjoy today, these assets periodically need to be replaced (think everything from boilers to roofs to playgrounds).
  • Equitable Service: We know that parks are a critical and affordable anchor in our City’s neighborhoods, but many Portlanders don’t have a park or natural area near them. Capital funding allows us to provide access to parks and natural areas for a growing population.

The current budget picture relates almost entirely to the ongoing operations portion of PP&R’s budget. This includes the daily support and maintenance needed to care for the parks and deliver recreation programs. A Parks bond would address the long-term maintenance and equitable service funding challenges. A bond would fund efficiency and safety improvements to our aging infrastructure and replace assets that have expired. It’s important to note that some efficiency replacements (such as replacing windows for energy conservation) could save ongoing operations and maintenance dollars in the long run. Further, a Parks bond would raise capital funding for the construction needed to create equitable service. With bond dollars, we would build out the park system in areas of the City that currently lack access to parks and community centers as well as acquire and protect natural areas for future generations. 

The Oregon Constitution stipulates that a bond can only be used for capital projects, and not used to offset ongoing operating costs. Please note that a bond referral is a City Council decision and we will keep you updated on the process.