PortlandOnline

POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish
Budget Message - June 10, 2010

The Portland City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Adams, unanimously approved the City’s 2010 – 2011 budget on May 26.

 

The balanced budget meets a number of my core values, maintains the City’s strong credit rating, and preserves our reserve funds. 

 

During this year’s budget work my budget priorities included:

  • Protecting children, older adults and our most vulnerable
  • Maintaining essential public safety
  • Investing in job creation

The budget we adopted addressed my priorities, but also included tough cuts to programs Portlanders care about. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Housing: To maintain our City’s safety net, we invested $2.5 million in the Portland Housing Bureau’s base budget to maintain funding for homeless services, rent assistance and housing.

 

We also invested an additional $1 million to address the growing tide of homelessness as a result of the current economic crisis. This is the second year in a row that this Council has prioritized spending on those in need.

 

Parks: We took a 4% cut that will result in employee layoffs, reduced maintenance and shortened hours at some of our recreation centers.

 

However, Council restored some funding for two important programs for young people: the summerTeen Program and the Summer Playground Program

 

Most importantly, the Summer Playground Program provides locations for free meals for children. In fact, by leveraging private donations, Parks was able to expand that federal lunch program to cover all of the time children are out of school.

 

Working with generous private and public partners, we were able to maintain a full slate of free summer events in the parks including free movies and concerts. And, we were able to save the Washington Park Summer Concert series – again!

 

Senior recreation programs received the minimum budget cut preserving all of those essential programs.

 

Public Safety: Working with the Mayor, Council was able to protect sworn police officer positions and minimize the cuts to the Portland Fire Bureau. I have complete confidence in Mike Reese, our new Police Chief. 

 

Jobs: We directed City bureaus to fast-track capital building projects wherever possible. Last year I co-sponsored a “buy local” initiative designed to keep tax dollars in the local economy.

 

Working with PDC, we increased business finance programs, redevelopment loans and storefront grants by $5.6 million in Urban Renewal Areas across the city. The Neighborhood Main Street Revitalization program will provide $500,000 to jump-start development initiatives. And we allocated $388,000 to continue investing in targeted, cluster-driven development and recruitment efforts.

 

Water and Sewer Rates: We heard from many Portlanders, especially those on a fixed income, who expressed concern about paying higher utility rates  I know that any rate increase is difficult. The goal for rate changes is to avoid wide swings in the increase from year to year. 

 

This year the total rate increase is 8%. In large part, this increase was driven by decisions beyond the control of city government. Federal mandates, like filtering our pristine Bull-Run water and the “big pipe” project to protect the Willamette River from sewage overflow, account for much of the increase.

 

While Council was able to reduce the overall proposed rate increase, I realize that for many Portlanders this is still too high. I pledge to work with my colleagues in the coming year to keep rates in check.

 

The Future: Mayor Adams has already cautioned Council that next year’s budget picture may be even tougher. Our work on the next budget begins now. I am committed to bringing more transparency to the budget process. And I will continue to fight for my priorities.  

 

It is an honor to serve on the Portland City Council. Together, we will weather these tough economic times – and move our community forward.

 

Nick