This morning, City Council approved the budget for FY 2013-14.
This has been the most challenging budget during my five years of service on the Council. With a $21.5 million shortfall, we worked hard to preserve the programs and services that Portlanders value.
Unfortunately, a number of hardworking City employees face layoffs in the coming year. However, we limited the number of layoffs by cutting vacant positions, and we provided “bridge” funding to preserve workforce diversity gains in bureaus.
While some City services will look and feel different, by focusing on the basics we now have a stronger foundation to build on.
I was proud to work with Mayor Hales and my Council colleagues to identify millions of dollars in cost savings, minimize utility rate increases, and save beloved community programs.
With the advent of the new independent City Budget Office, our public process was more open and transparent. The City was well-served by public and labor representatives on our Budget Advisory Committees. Hundreds of citizens got engaged and shared their stories at budget hearings across the city.
Thanks to everyone who wrote, called, and testified on this year’s budget. Your voices made a difference.
Here are some of the highlights:
- We fully funded the Safety Net, which provides essential housing and services for our community’s most vulnerable families and individuals.
- We invested in strong neighborhoods and small businesses, from the East Portland Action Plan and new Housing Inspectors, to Venture Portland, Main Street programs, and the Village Market at New Columbia. And, for the first time in years, we protected Portland Parks & Recreation from potentially devastating cuts that would have put our much-loved parks, trails, and natural areas at further risk.
- We funded vital programs for children and seniors. PP&R’s Teen Program and our Summer Lunch Program for hungry children have been restored with ongoing funds. The Multnomah Youth Commission has found a new home with support staff in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. And, we worked with the County to restore funds for SUN Schools and Senior Recreation programs.
- We preserved important Public Safety services. We protected funding for officers on the street and preserved units focused on gang enforcement, family services, and school security. And, thanks to some creative thinking, Portland Fire & Rescue won’t close any fire stations.
It is an honor to serve on the City Council, and to work with our dedicated City employees and community partners.
Steve Law in the Portland Tribune