I am happy that in my fourth budget as a City Commissioner, my colleagues showed deep appreciation for community engagement and citizen involvement, providing funding that reflects understanding the importance of communication, collaboration, and empowerment of neighbors where you live.
This week, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement's Director, Amalia Alarcón de Morris, sent the following message to the dozens of Portlanders who participated on ONI's Budget Advisory Committee. Anyone interested is welcome to join the group, which meets for three hours twice each month starting in late fall. Amalia wrote:
Thank you for your participation in the 2012-13 budget process. In the fourth consecutive cut budget, the ONI network sustained more losses, notably a vacant half-time administrative assistant position for Crime Prevention, half the Small Grants money, and a 1% cut to all partner organizations. These constraints will make it more difficult for City staff, community partners, and volunteers to complete everything we want to get done.
But it could have been much worse.
Your advocacy in letters, emails, phone calls and at hearings helped our Commissioner, Amanda Fritz win back funding for a threatened Crime Prevention Specialist position, Disability materials, and Resolutions NW.
- While other bureaus took cuts of up to 8%, ONI escaped with reductions at 3.5%.
- ONI partner agency staff cost of living allowances, the first in many years, were specifically funded - Commissioner Fritz made this one of her priorities despite the BAC and partner staff once again nobly offering savings in this line item.
- Together, we won back the Crime Prevention position that was threatened right up to the last two weeks of the process. Council heard over and over that Samantha's outstanding performance in the position is greatly valued by neighbors, and that Crime Prevention services citywide are essential to community livability.
- Together, we saved funding for Resolutions Northwest.
- Together, we made sure the East Portland Action Plan continues with staff and grant funding.
- Together, we preserved at least half the money for Neighborhood Small Grants.
Perhaps even more significant in the long run, Commissioner Fritz won unanimous approval for a Budget Note that specifies funding for Graffiti and Resolutions NW will be part of ONI's ongoing allocation in the 2013-14 budget. This converts more than $500,000 from line items we have to justify each year, into being part of ONI's core budget again.
We want to express our gratitude to all our partners who invested time and energy in our budget process, and advocated for our bureau budget. And also to our Commissioner in charge, Amanda Fritz, who has fought so hard and so successfully on ONI’s behalf in difficult budget years. Her advocacy on our behalf, together with yours, resulted in a much better budget outcome than any of us imagined.
Amalia Alarcón de Morris
Bureau Director,Office of Neighborhood Involvement
Full details of the budget gains and cuts in ONI are posted here.