Mayor Sam Adams released his proposed budget for the city this morning, describing it as a "basic needs budget." "In the face of the worst global recession in more than a generation, this budget strives to keep all Portlanders safe and secure in their homes, their neighborhoods, their jobs," he said.
There was huge concern earlier this year that the mayor may have to cut the housing budget's one-time funding from $6m to $2.5m. But the biggest winners in Adams' budget this morning are the city's homeless.
Adams has increased the housing bureau's total general fund budget by about $3.7m or roughly 30 percent. That money comes partly from the city's general fund and partly from federal stimulus dollars. It also includes $1m in ongoing general fund dollars to fund homeless services this year which will be available in 2010-11 to fund the operation of the Resource Access Center for the homeless.
"If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness or at need for supportive services, if you are struggling in this economy, you are a winner in this budget," said Housing Commissioner Nick Fish. "We have preserved the social safety net during the worst economy I have seen in my lifetime."
Adams will keep open a threatened fire station, prompting Fire Commisisoner Randy Leonard to describe the budget as "remarkable," although the budget also cuts 55 jobs from Leonard's Bureau of Development Services.
Adams is cutting a net total of 159 city jobs: 55 jobs at the Bureau of Development Services; 61 in Adams' bureau of transportation—including 10 jobs for residential street cleaning, 6 jobs from the city's abandoned auto program, 5 jobs in "local street pavement surface treatments"; 5 jobs are being cut from the fire and rescue bureau, 9 jobs from the parks bureau; 33 jobs from the Portland Police Bureau as part of its precinct restructure; 20 jobs from the city's water bureau.
Adams also plans to raise water rates by 17.9 percent and parking meter revenues by 35 percent to balance the books.
At the same time, the budget includes a $2.5million line item for a pre-development agreement on Major League Soccer and AAA Baseball. The Mercury asked the mayor how this line item fits with meeting the city's "basic needs." Adams said the money is expected to come from the city's spectator facilities fund—which taxes a percentage of ticket sales—and therefore could not be used to fund other things like people to repair potholes.
Jobs in City Commissioner Amanda Fritz's office of Human Relations will be preserved and funded permanently. The bureau had previously been facing cuts of up to 46 percent. "It was the mayor and the rest of city council honoring their commitments to human rights from last year," said Fritz, afterward.
$339,416 in funding for Mayor Tom Potter's Vision Into Action program has been totally cut from Adams' budget. $796,546 has also been cut from the Bureau of Planning's Portland Plan effort, which is supposed to take a long-range approach to planning the city's future. $25,000 was also refused for an "electric car race." Instead, the city is giving out that money in sustainability grants for other projects.
Adams faced questions from TV reporters asking whether his personal life was affecting his ability to do his job, but refused to answer. A reporter from KATU was also saying "fuck the press conference, this is the mayor's future we're talking about" into his cellphone shortly beforehand. That reporter later confirmed to the Mercury that KATU plans to break a new story about the mayor's "personal life" on Monday, or possibly today.
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