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Council warns Portland bureaus of looming budget cuts

Memo gives agencies a hint of what's to come next year

After years of relatively good financial health, Portland's City Council has warned its bureaus that they face potentially steep cuts in the 2012-13 budget.

In a memo released Wednesday, Oct. 5, Mayor Sam Adams and the rest of the council say deteriorating economic conditions means the city is facing a budget shortfall that could require cuts of 4 percent to 8 percent, depending on each bureau's sources of funding. Agencies directors were directed to prepare budget submission based on those warning.


• Click here to read the City Council's 2012-13 budget memo.


'These remain uncertain times,' council members wrote in the four-page memo. 'The city has responsibly managed its resources to date, and we will continue to pursue a prudent, financially sustainable path going forward while we work to ensure a more prosperous, resilient and equitable city.'

The council begins considering the 2012-13 budget in the spring.

Adams said the city has about $47 million in its fiscal reserve, which has never been tapped. It also has a $9 million rainy day fund.

'As we have done in every budget cycle I have overseen as mayor, we are making conservative early assumptions regarding revenues,' Adams said. 'A full economic recovery has not yet happened. Unemployment is still very high, and few economists are predicting the type of growth that would significantly increase revenue in the near term. We're being prudent as we approach next year's budget.'

The council's memo said that economists are warning that a so-called double-dip recession is not out of the question. It also said that a May 2012 ballot measure to create a library district being considered by the Multnomah County Commission could reduce city revenue because of Oregon's complex property tax limitation system.

The memo noted that Gov. John Kitzhaber directed state agency directors to prepare for cuts of 5 percent to 10 percent in their budgets for the next fiscal year.

Commissioner Randy Leonard raised the issue during a Wednesday City Council hearing on increasing city funding for domestic violence counselors. Although Leonard voted for the increased funding, he said existing programs face budget cuts next fiscal year.