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  • 19 Oct 2014

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Budget forums let public sound off on city spending

Two events in March will guide priorities and possible cuts

Portland's City Council has scheduled two public forums in March to take testimony on the annual budget that goes into effect July 1.

Because of the continuing poor economy, the Office of Management and Finance estimates the council needs to make $17.4 million in cuts in the city's discretionary financial resources, otherwise known as general fund reviews.

That translates to a 4.7 percent across-the-board cut in the general fund portion of agency budgets, the finance office estimates.

Portland's Bureau of Transportation must also close an approximately $17 million gap in dedicated funds, in large part because the city's share of state gasoline tax revenues have not increased as fast as expected.

To prepare for the reductions, Mayor Sam Adams has asked city agencies to submit budgets with proposed 4 percent, 6 percent and 8 percent cuts. He will prepare a budget for council consideration using the cuts as guidelines.

Oregon law requires the city to balance its budget.

Proposals submitted to Adams have ranged from closing community centers in city parks to suspending street repaving work.

Historically, the council has approved different levels of cuts in different agencies, with the Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire and Rescue taking a smaller percent of general fund cuts that some other agencies.

The forums are an opportunity for Portlanders to highlight their budget priorities to the council. The forums are scheduled:

• Monday, March 5, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Montgomery Park Ballroom, 2701 N.W. Vaughn St. A parking lot is available, and the location can be reached on TriMet bus lines 15, 17 and 77.

• Wednesday, March 21, Cleveland High School Cafeteria, 3400 S.E. 26th Ave. A parking lot is available and the location can be reached on TriMet bus lines 9, 10 and 66.

Another revenue forecast will be issued in April before the council competes its work on the budget.

For more information on the forums and budget, visit the city's website, www.portlandonline.com/omf/index.cfm?c=26061 .