“Last year, I put forward a budget that invested in healing and building for the future of Portland. This year, my proposed budget builds on that foundation, implementing the bold change Portlanders have called for within their City government and their community.” – Mayor Wheeler
Today, Mayor Wheeler releases his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 for the City of Portland. For the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the City’s budget totals $7.1 billion, which is collected through a variety of revenue sources. The budget funds services delivered by 28 City bureaus and 7,299 employees.
Approximately 90% of the total budget is already dedicated to critical work like construction of new parks, treating our drinking water, paving streets, operating the city’s sanitary sewer system, and building affordable housing. Though the remaining 10% of the budget is a more discretionary resource within the General Fund, the vast majority, if not all, of those funds are already committed to existing, ongoing work like police, fire, 911 emergency response services as well as daily operations of parks and recreation services.
Council has spent the last several months working alongside the City Budget Office and bureaus to identify available revenue and assess existing programs.
Throughout the Spring, Council held 6 work sessions, each led by the Commissioner-in-Charge of a designated Service Area, to better understand how bureau resources are currently allocated, learn about financial plans, and key performance metrics. The Service Areas are as follows:
- Commissioner Mapps: Public Works (Water, Hydro, Environmental Services, and Transportation)
- Commissioner Rubio: Community and Economic Development (Housing, Development Services, Planning and Sustainability, and Prosper Portland)
- Commissioner Gonzalez: Public Safety (Fire, Emergency Communications, Emergency Management and Disability and Retirement)
- Commissioner Ryan: Culture and Livability (Community and Civic Life, Equity and Human Rights, Parks and Recreation)
- Mayor Wheeler: Public Administration (Management and Finance, Budget, Government Relations, Attorney, Police and Joint Office of Homeless Services)
In addition to work sessions, Council held 3 public listening sessions to gather information and input from the general public about what issues they would like to see prioritized within the budget.
Given inflation to existing costs, the sunsetting of federal one-time resources used to fund ongoing needs, and the elevated level of deferred infrastructure maintenance – the demand for resources continues to surpass availability within the City. The Mayor directed bureaus to submit their requested base budget without requests for new ongoing or one-time funds.
The City was fortunate to receive new revenue from Business Licenses Taxes and the return of property taxes from the closure of Urban Renewal Areas, which helped to balance this budget and allowed the city to fund important projects that address Portlander’s greatest concerns: homelessness, public safety, economic recovery, and livability in addition to upholding the City’s obligation to Portlanders to fully implement voter-approved Charter change by January of 2025.
Portland continues to experience rampant rates of unsheltered homelessness across the city. Unsheltered Portlanders continue to live in unsafe and unhygienic conditions, with many suffering from untreated substance use disorders and mental health issues.
This budget dedicates $43.3 Million to continue the operation of over 400 congregate shelter beds through the Joint Office of Homeless Services. Additional funding is proposed to expand the Street Services Coordination Center and continue providing resources to get folks off the streets, into temporary safe alternative shelter sites, and connected to resources.
With 3,400 units of affordable housing already in the development pipeline, the Portland Housing Bureau is expected to open over 625 additional units in 2023.
Rates of gun violence incidence are on a downward trend and, while that is encouraging progress, the City is continuing to invest in programs that help keep the community safe and ensure offenders are held accountable for their actions
This budget bolsters the Portland Police Bureau’s strong recruitment efforts to hire 300 new police offices by the end of fiscal year 2024-25 by releasing $5.3 Million of ongoing dollars for 43 new sworn officer positions. It funds stolen vehicle recovery work and partners with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office to increase capacity for retail and vehicle theft investigation and prosecution.
In addition to maintaining Portland Street Response’s current service level, the budget reinstates Portland Fire and Rescue’s rapid response vehicle (RRV) program for $2.6 Million on a one-year basis.
Economic Recovery & Livability
Economic recovery is, in large part, dependent on improved livability across the city. The Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program and Public Environment Management Office continue to lead and vastly improve trash collection and graffiti abatement work in Portland. This budget maintains current service levels for these programs, which totals $21.7 million. It also continues the City’s relationship with SOLVE with $400,000 to fund neighborhood clean-ups, and dedicates $2.0 Million in new funding to increasing capacity for derelict RV enforcement and towing.
In addition to providing $800,000 in new dollars to existing grants programs for small business stabilization and local events, this budget continues funding decorative lighting to enhance the city and encourage locals and visitors alike to take advantage of small businesses and events. Those visiting downtown will also soon find that the Thompson Elk Fountain has been restored to its natural downtown habitat as this budget proposes funding to restore and re-install this beloved symbol in Portland.
In November of 2022, Portlanders voted to overhaul the current system of local government; changing the way Portlanders elect officials, how officials govern, and how bureaus are managed.
The City is making significant investments to ensure that it is ready for the first ranked choice voting election, the arrival of a 12-person City Council, a City Administrator, and other associated changes. To date, over $9.5 Million dollars has been dedicated to the staffing, consulting, voter education and facilities costs needed to fully implement voter-approved Charter change by January 1, 2025.
Rate and Fee Increases
In general, rates are based on a 5-year financial forecast, which is informed by bureau operating budgets and future capital plans. With inflation increasing construction costs and large, multi-year projects like the Bull Run filtration project and the Secondary Treatment Expansion Program in progress, the combined rate increase for water and sewer services is proposed to be 6.59 percent, which equates to a combined monthly increase of $8.90 per month which equates to an increase of $26.70 per quarter for a typical single-family unit.
Mayor Wheeler is concerned about the cumulative impacts of increased rates and fees across city bureaus, including system development charges, but has included these increases within his proposed budget for discussion with Council and the public. He will focus a large portion of next week’s Council Work Session on discussing how these rate and fee increases impact Portland residents, in addition to the other jurisdictional tax increases within the city.
Mayor Wheeler’s objectives within his Fiscal Year 2023-2024 Proposed Budget are clear: the City must remain responsive in addressing Portlander’s most pressing challenges, uphold its responsibilities in implementing Charter change, and continue to provide and improve upon its daily service delivery.
Today’s release of Mayor Wheeler’s proposed budget continues the budget development conversation with Portlanders. He encourages members of the public to provide input via several upcoming opportunities for engagement in the weeks to come.
Upcoming hybrid events (in person and virtual):
- Tuesday, May 9, 9:30am-11:30am – Council Budget Work Session
- Thursday, May 11, 6:30pm-8:30pm – Public Hearing on Mayor’s Proposed Budget. Participation information is available here as sign-up is in advance using the Zoom online registration form.
- **Please note: Council will participate virtually this evening, though the City Budget Office has an in-person location for the community members to have the option of providing testimony using a live remote platform (Zoom) or by viewing the meeting at Portland Building, Room 108, located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204.
- Wednesday, May 17, 2:00pm-5:00pm– Council Convenes as Budget Committee to Approve Mayor’s Proposed Budget
- Information for participation in regular Council Agenda items is located on Council Clerk’s website.
- Wednesday, May 24, 2:00-5:00pm – First Reading Utility Rate Hearing
- Wednesday, May 31, Second Reading on the Utility Rate Hearing Approval (Second Reading - no public testimony)
- Tuesday, June 13, 9:30am-11:00am– Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission Hearing on the Approved Budget
- Wednesday, June 14, 2:00-5:00pm – Council Convenes to Adopt Budget Hearing (First Reading)
- Wednesday, June 21 – Adopt Budget (Second Reading - no public testimony)