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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Budget Office Suggests Police Layoffs Nearly Inevitable

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 2:44 PM

The city budget office yesterday posted its "reviews" of all the things city bureaus say they want to cut to help solve a $25 million deficit—and all the things they would love to keep if Mayor Charlie Hales and the rest of the Portland City Council saw fit to let them.

It's pretty ugly—especially when it comes to the bureau that eats up the largest share of the city's operating revenue: the Portland Police Bureau. I hit some of this on Twitter last night, but here's the big news: After years of avoiding the ax at the expense of other bureaus, the cops are now being told to expect layoffs.

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The bureau also faces a world where it doesn't spend money on the Hooper Detox Center and CHIERS van. Where its mounted patrol loses all public funding. Where it takes cuts to its property crimes, gang, and traffic units. And, perhaps controversially, the bureau would shift all but two officers away from its school police unit.

It's hardly better throughout the other city bureaus.

Fire is the other big budget taker. And the CBO is telling it to go without three fire stations out of seven (from a total of 30) it hoped to restore, while urging it to continue using rapid-response vehicles instead of large rigs for certain calls. It's also telling fire to explore ditching American Medical Response for ambulance calls and taking that on itself.

In a bright spot, the CBO is telling the housing bureau it makes sense to keep one of its proposed cuts at bay: shutting down the Clark Center shelter, which would kick 90 men to the streets and dramatically lengthen already stressed waiting times for shelter space.

One note: This is all just one more step before the mayor's office proposes a budget in several more weeks. And then commissioners and, this year, citizen advisers will pore over all of this stuff as they bargain with city unions and negotiate with other government partners to ease, as much as possible, the size of the cut in the first place.

So... you know... keep following the bouncing ball.

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