Budget would cut services
The city of Portland's budget may be smaller in the coming fiscal year, but its bond rating won't be.
That triple A bond rating, a rarity among big cities, is a point of pride for Mayor Vera Katz, who's been drafting the city budget in recent weeks. It's a sign, she said, of healthy financial practices during a time of sickly revenue and means the city pays less interest on construction bonds Ñ crucial if the city buys Portland General Electric or helps to build a baseball stadium.
The preliminary budget Katz is preparing calls for cuts just about everywhere: 2.2 percent for fire, police and emergency services; 2.2 percent for the Bureau of Licenses; and 4 percent everywhere else, which means fewer road repairs, 46 fewer police officers and cuts to parks.
The city's discretionary money Ñ money not already earmarked Ñ actually will go up, from $281 million to $284 million. But labor contracts and increased costs because of inflation are prompting service cuts.
The public will get its say on the budget after release of the mayor's proposal. Hearings are set for May 21 and May 27.
May Day marchers ready
Organizers of this year's May Day rally and march have decided to take out a city parade permit. Some previous events have been marred by controversies about permit requirements and clashes with police.
This year's May 1 events largely are being organized by representatives from several labor unions, including Local 247 of the Carpenters Union. According to union official Pete Savage, the decision to seek a permit was made to avoid problems with the police and to encourage families to attend.
The rally will start at 2:30 p.m. May 1 in the North Park Blocks, with the parade scheduled for 4:30 p.m.