Late last week, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz dropped a worthy, compelling proposal for a new—and independent—city budget office. It recently won the blessing of the Oregonian's editorial board, and it was supposed to go up for a vote this morning.
As I wrote last week:
The splinter City Budget Office would handle budget forecasts, labor-contract assessments, and financial planning. And it would be run by a director who could be appointed by the mayor but dismissed only by a majority of the city council.
But the plan—which treads heavily on financial ground traditionally prowled by the mayor's office—has been bumped from today's council agenda in the name of seeking out more "community" feedback.
The proposal instead is being posted to Fritz's city blog, where comments are welcomed. Fritz also is going to confer more with the city's chief administrative officer—whose Office of Management and Finance would be split by the plan.
My suspicion is that politics (Fritz stands for re-election against Mary Nolan in just two weeks) and ruffled feathers over the plan's details had threatened to get in the way of an earnest discussion of the merits of Fritz's plan.
The plan does have conceptual support, sources say, including from the mayor. But waiting could mean a unanimous vote instead of a potentially divided one. I'd expect to see the plan resurface after the election—whether Fritz wins or not. I'll update with a comment from Fritz or her office after council adjourns.
Update 11:45 AM: Other sources cite surprise by the administrative officer, Jack Graham, as the biggest issue driving the delay. Fritz pointed me to her blog, said the timing had more to do with the upcoming budget, and told me she's "excited" by all the interest. She also said the timing had nothing to do with electoral politics.
"It's not my style," she says, "to have something drop on a Friday and then go up for a vote on a Wednesday."
Of course, that was the plan, her "style" or no, until some questions came up over the weekend and approval, based on what as released Friday, starting looking dubious. Moving it forward before the election would have given her one more bullet point to hold up during the stretch run.
It's still a good idea, all that said, and worth fleshing out. And Fritz and other city sources expect it to move before the end of the year.
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