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Mayor Wheeler’s Message on the Proposed Budget

Press Release
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The proposed budget invests record funding for homeless services, includes strategies and resources to increase community-centered policing, focuses on support for small businesses, and moves the city budget toward long-term fiscal sustainability.

My proposed budget makes significant investments to address four core objectives:

  • Embracing fiscal responsibility both now and over the long-term
  • Addressing housing affordability and homelessness
  • Strengthening public safety and police accountability
  • Enhancing economic prosperity

 The proposed budget increases the Business License Tax rate, from the current 2.2% to 2.6%, while increasing the Owner’s Compensation Deduction from $103,000 to $125,000, to give small business owners some additional relief.

These changes would result in an estimated $15.3 million in additional revenues this year to stabilize the budget for homeless services, invest more in moving people out of shelters and into housing, fund programs in the Police Bureau that support community-centered policing, add resources to trash and graffiti cleanup, and to provide additional small business support.

To address HOMELESSNESS, my budget includes:

  • A record $31.2 million for the Joint Office, a 10.1% increase compared with last year.
  • Significantly increases resources for housing placement, particularly those who are transitioning from shelter by an additional $3 million.
  • Converts $4 million in one-time dollars to ongoing support for year-round shelter, housing placement, and intensive street engagement. This will provide ongoing stability on the budget allocated toward the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
  • Prioritizes and aligns funds for supportive housing so that we can continue to make good on our efforts to provide an additional 2,000 units of supportive housing over the next 10 years.

To address HOUSING, my budget includes:

  • Invests in more than 700 newly affordable units currently under construction and slated to open in 2018, and an additional 1,322 units that are beginning construction and will be opening their doors in 2019.
  • Allocates $2,040,521 to the Office of Rental Services, which was formed to inform renters and landlords of their rights and responsibilities, to mediate disputes between parties, and to manage the rental relocation assistance program. This includes $200,000 to create a Rental Registration System, which will provide quality data on the rental market, including rent increases, evictions, security deposits and more. That data is essential to policymakers as we work to address the current housing affordability crisis. In addition, the budget includes $175,000 in one-time General Fund resources to manage the coordination of the development and implementation of the Rental Registration System across City bureaus for the Office of Rental Services.
  • Increases the amount of funding available for Citywide home repair by $294,393, prioritizing services for households in East Portland.
  • Includes two new staff to support implementation of the Affordable Housing Bond, funded by allowable bond administrative funding. The Proposed Budget also realigns $352,500 in permanent supportive housing funding from the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ budget to the Portland Housing Bureau in order to pair housing services with affordable units developed through the bond.

To address POLICING, my budget includes:

  • Authorizes 52 additional sworn officers to help the bureau curb increasing response time for 911 calls, reduce the bureau’s reliance on overtime, reduce officer fatigue, and pivot toward a community policing model over the next several years. That means more time spent meeting with residents, business owners, attending community meetings, and building trust with the residents of Portland.
  • Enhances the Behavioral Health Unit to respond to individuals experiencing mental health issues. The officers and mental health professionals on the Behavioral Health Response Teams work proactively with individuals who have mental health issues and are identified as having multiple or high-risk contacts with police. The goal of intervention is to reduce the individual’s contacts with the Portland Police Bureau and the criminal justice system by coordinating their connection with the healthcare system. We’re going to increase the number of BHU teams from three to five, providing additional case management and follow up contacts. We think this ask can increase the number of clients served by 50% … that’s an additional 250 clients over last year.
  • Restores ongoing funding to the Service Coordination Team. The SCT is a program that offers treatment and housing to repeat and frequent drug and property crime offenders. The SCT program has produced measurable positive results around reduced recidivism (reduced 82% for program graduates) and several evaluations from PSU have shown that the program results in significant cost-savings across the justice system.
  • Adds 3 analyst positions to expand the internal audit staff in the Professional Standards Division. Additional staff capacity will allow for follow-up support on use-of-force audits, as well as expand the internal audit function to include other bureau policies.
  • Adds 4 dedicated officer positions in the Training Division responsible for Ethics and Procedural Justice, Leadership Development, Basic Patrol Procedures, and Advanced Training.
  • Adds two staff to the Records Division to decrease the amount of time required to fulfill public records requests.
  • Funds positions to assist with the development of the PCCEP program in accordance with the Department of Justice settlement amendments.
  • Directs the Police Bureau and the Office of Management & Finance to ensure that the Community Service Officer program is implemented by January 1st, 2019.
  • Provides ongoing funds for a Complaints Investigator position for Independent Police Review. The position will help the Auditor’s Office meet its obligations under the settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice regarding turnaround times for investigations of complaints of police misconduct.

To address ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, my budget includes:

  • Increases support for Small Business Growth Program & Small Business Technical Assistance to help 200 businesses reach growth and wealth creation outcomes, and support 400 business owners on their path to become strong and stable. Most Inclusive Business Resource Network business owners are from underrepresented communities such as people of color, low-income residents and women.

To address FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, my budget includes:

  • Invests in more resources and technology to collect taxes that are already owed, including the business license tax. These investments should more than pay for themselves with increased revenue collections.
  • Requires every General Fund bureau to identify efficiencies equaling 1% of their budgets over the next 12 months through realignments, smart use of technology, reduction of overhead, or other means that do not impact front line service delivery to the public. Next year, the base budgets of each bureau will account for these savings.
  • Converts $4.0 million of one-time dollars spent on homeless services into ongoing funds, which will help us move toward a more sustainable Joint Office.
  • Includes $12.3 million in one-time General Fund resources to address critical infrastructure needs in Transportation, Parks, and Fire. In addition, my Parks budget includes $625,000 in ongoing resources to increase the bureau’s major maintenance funding and directs the bureau to keep requesting major maintenance funding every year until they have enough to maintain our beautiful parks system.
  • Includes strategies that will reduce our dependence on expensive overtime staffing in the Police Bureau.

We are now almost into our tenth year of economic expansion, and the majority of Portland’s economic indicators are stronger than they’ve ever been. Incomes are rising. Unemployment is near an all-time low. The region continues to attract a highly skilled workforce and add new businesses.

However, recent years of economic growth and revenue expansion have made it too easy for Portland government to lose its focus when it comes to fiscal discipline.

I have a responsibility to the people I represent, and those who come after me, to recognize that our costs are growing much faster than our revenues, our resources are finite, and our needs are substantial. My proposed budget addresses this misalignment head-on, with several initiatives focused on Portland’s long-term fiscal sustainability.

My proposed budget focuses our resources on the things that make a real difference in the lives of Portlanders. It is our responsibility address homelessness compassionately and effectively, to invest in affordable housing units, to work towards a community-centered policing model and to ensure economic growth and fiscal discipline for long-term success.