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Portland's Mayor Releases Budget: City Faces $21M Deficit

Mayor Charlie Hales at a press conference Tuesday.

Mayor Charlie Hales at a press conference Tuesday.

April Baer/OPB

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales unveiled his budget proposal Tuesday morning, confirming that the city faces a more than $21 million deficit for the coming biennium. OPB’s April Baer says cuts are on the way:

“Hales said he was trying to prioritize some kinds of basic services, including the housing bureau’s safety net, but he also said there were definitely going to be layoffs coming, especially in the Portland Police Bureau. That’s an area that’s escaped the budget ax in years past,” she said.

The police bureau is likely facing some layoffs and cuts.

“He also indicated that there would be cuts to some programs that people hold near and dear — the mounted patrol for the police bureau, the Buckman Pool — are on the cutting block for now.  Other programs like SUN schools would be preserved.  There’s still a lot of work to do, though.  There are several  budget meetings at which the public will be able to weigh in on these cuts. The council’s expected to finalize the budget in June,” Baer reported.


Baer talked about the deep cuts the city faces on Tuesday’s Think Out Loud.


From the Mayor’s budget page

Other major changes in the budget include:

  • Reducing the Portland Police Bureau by 55 positions. The mayor also proposes roughly $707,000 in one-time “bridge funding” to keep senior personnel in position until they retire, and thus not laying off recently hired, younger, more diverse, police officers to achieve the position reduction.

The budget largely safeguards the patrol officers, gang enforcement and neighborhood response team positions in the Police Bureau. It maintains most of the city’s dedicated school resource officers. It keeps most of the property crimes unit, which had been listed for elimination under the Police Bureau’s original budget proposal.

But among the tough decisions was the elimination of a popular program: the horse patrol.

The budget also would eliminate city funding for Multnomah County’s Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center, shifting full funding responsibility for this mental health program to the county. Portland Police have been prohibited from taking people to the facility because of intergovernmental rules.

  • Restructuring the Portland Fire & Rescue Bureau by eliminating 41.8 FTE staff positions; eliminating four standard engine or truck companies and establishing four two-person Rapid Response Vehicle, or RRV, companies, integrating them into regular operations in high call volume areas.

The mayor’s budget rejected a proposal from the bureau to close up to seven fire stations. Under Hales’ proposed budget, all stations would remain open.

  • Keeping the city’s water and sewer rate increases below 5 percent, combined. The outcome would be an increase of an estimated $4.13 per month for the average single-family bill. When Hales took office, water and sewer rates both had been proposed to increase by around 7.8 percent each. The mayor worked with both bureaus to keep rate increases as low as possible.
  • Reducing management and overhead costs across the city’s bureaucracy, including City Hall offices and many of the city’s bureaus.
  • The city would operate with a $3 million contingency fund. Last year, the city began with a $1.4 million contingency fund, but quickly drained most of that money before the first month of the fiscal year was over.


Among the programs that remain fully or partially funded under the mayor’s proposals:

  • The Parks-operated SUN schools and David Douglas SUN school.
  • Safety resource officers at schools
  • The East Portland Action Plan
  • The Safety Net collective of programs
  • City funding to continue TriMet’sYouthPass
  • The Multnomah Youth Commission
  • Portland Community College’s Future Connect scholarship program
  • The Hooper detoxification center and the CHIERS program to pick up intoxicated people encountered in public areas
  • Southeast Works
  • Neighborhood tree planting
  • Graffiti removal
  • VOZ Day Labor Center
  • Sunday Parkways


“The hardest part of the budget was picking those programs we just cannot fund this year,” Hales said. “In most cases, it was picking one great program over another great program. There are no easy answers.” Those programs facing elimination in his proposed budget include:

  • Buckman Pool
  • LifeWorks
  • Pass-through funding for Multnomah County’s SUN Schools
  • CASHOregon– a program for filing tax returns for low-income Oregonians
  • A needle exchange program
  • The annual Symphony In The Park
  • A Restorative Justice program in Parkrose


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