On Wednesday 10/24/12 in the morning session, City Council will take public testimony and consider my proposal to create a City Budget Office. If approved, the City’s Financial Planning Division, currently within the Bureau of Financial Services within the Office of Management and Finance, will become an independent office reporting directly to the Mayor and all Commissioners.
This new structure will have minimal impact on the cost of budgeting, while potentially saving millions through better decision-making by Council.
It is a significant reform to our internal City structure, which will improve our budgeting process and lead to better, more accountable spending decisions.
Under our Commission form of government, every member of Council has both executive and legislative responsibilities. Elected officials will make better decisions when we receive direct assistance and information from independent budget analysts.
The proposal includes hiring three utility experts, who will monitor Portland’s utility bureaus throughout the year and make recommendations about utility rates, contracts, and capital expenditures. These positions will be funded by the utility bureaus within existing resources. This concept was discussed during the 2011 Charter Commission’s consideration of an Independent Utility Commission. It will provide more expert oversight of rates and performance.
I look forward to the conversation at the public hearing on Wednesday, October 24th regarding my proposal. I encourage you to read the ordinance and proposed implementation Code. Depending on public testimony and Council direction at the hearing on Wednesday, I may delay the vote to allow for deeper discussion of the initiative. This is a significant change to the City’s internal structure, and as such deserves thoughtful and inclusive consideration.
For more information, please contact Tim Crail at 503-823-3988.