In his last year as Portland mayor, Charlie Hales would seem to have the financial winds at his back to push an aggressive agenda.
The Portland Budget Office is projecting a record revenue windfall of $16 million as city health costs slow and hotel taxes outpace expectations. Meanwhile, the city’s economy is considered by experts to be one of the “best performing” in the country.
With that backdrop, Hales unveiled a roughly $500 million general fund budget Monday.
The 2016-2017 budget focuses on improving housing availability and affordability in the city, and countering a continued rise in gang violence.
And part of the funding to address those issues comes from a Hales proposal to increase an existing tax on business profits.
“I’m not naturally inclined to raise taxes on business,” Hales said during an unveiling ceremony for the budget, “but this is a necessary increase.”
The tax would add about $8.7 million to city coffers by increasing the existing tax on business profits from 2.2 percent to 2.5 percent.
The tax is not universal, and Hales’ office estimates about 25,000 Portland businesses will pay the increase in the next year.
Under Hales’ proposal, the city would spend an additional $11.1 million on public safety issues, prioritizing street gang outreach workers, hiring police officers and implementing body cameras. The budget would also send an additional $18.6 million in homeless and affordable housing.
The City Council will take up Hales’ proposal at a future meeting.