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Hales to present budget to City Council on Wednesday


Mayor Charlie Hales will present his proposed budget for the next fiscal year to the City Council on Wednesday.

The council will convene as the city Budget Committee to receive the proposal at the beginning of its weekly meeting. The proposal includes $49 million in additional General Fund revenue, the kind of dollars the council has the greatest discretion to spend.

"ln good times and in bad, Portlanders' values are clear. They expect us to take care of what we have and invest in a better future, This year, the budget news is great, so this is the right year to invest wisely," Hales says in the Mayor's Message presenting the proposed budget that takes effect on July 1.

You can reads the entire Mayor's Message here.

Hales unveiled the the $3.5 billion proposal last week. it includes $484.5 million in General Fund revenue. At that time, Hales said it focuses on basic services, improving the relationship between the police and the community, and helping youth, especially at-risk kids.

"Budgets are the way the City Council puts its priorities into action," Hales said during a press conference at the East Portland Community Center, 740 S.E. 106th Ave.

Here's where Hales wants to spend most of the additional General Fund revenue:

• Street projects would receive nearly half of the increase, almost $20 million. The additional money would continue the city's commitment to maintain 100 miles of streets a year, add safety improvements in East Portland so TriMet will start frequent service on 122nd Avenue, and finally begin funding the long promised "Up From the Mud" program to pave the 50 miles of dirt roads in the city.

• Continuing police reforms, including creating the new positions required to implement the U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement to end the bureau's historic use of excessive force against the mentally ill. Hales is also proposing spending $500,000 to help fund the new regional Psychiatric Emergency Center with Multnomah County and other partners called for in the agreement.

• Expanding hours for teenagers at Portland Park & Recreation community centers and other facilities to provide safe options to being on the streets. Among other things, Hales wants to spend $2 million of the additional funds to reduce the user fees that were begun during the Great Recession to offset budget cuts.

Another public safety-related request is for $1.38 million to restore 26 Portland firefighter positions eliminated during the Great Recession but retained with a federal grant that expires halfway through the coming fiscal year.

Hales' proposed budget also includes an additional $6 million for the homeless and affordable housing, including funds to keep an existing women's shelter open year-round, increased focus on homeless camps, and more housing assistance. The total housing budget is $99 million.

"We do have an affordable housing crisis, and it is not going away anytime soon," says Hales.

Hales is also proposing to increase joint water and sewer rates a little less than 5 percent. He says that is less than projected several years ago and mostly for necessary capital projects, such as the $55 million water conduit under the Willamette River designed to withstand earthquakes.

Although Hales proposed budget would add 128 new positions, he insists most will provide needed services, not administrative overhead.

Unlike many previous budgets, Hales' proposal does not include much one-time spending. Hales says a lot of that money went to projects the council knew would be continued in future years anyway. He wants to end that practice but folding them into the regular budget, beginning with $300,000 for the East County Action Plan that has already been funded for many years by the council.

Despite that, Hales is still proposing a few one-time appropriations he calls appropriate. In addition to the $500,000 for the regional mental health crisis center, they include:

• $2.57 million to start design work for renovating the Portland Building. The rest of the project — currently estimated at $175 million — would be funded through a financial instrument backed by future rents from the bureaus housed there.

• $1.93 million to promote Portland and provide public access to the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships, schedule for March 16-18 next year at the Oregon Convention Center. The international track and field competition is part of 10-days of athletic competitions, including the 2016 USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 11-12. Hales says the events are an unparalleled opportunity for Portland to showcase itself before the 200 or so participating countries, and he also wants those who are not attending to view it on a Jumbotron screen at Pioneer Courthouse Square. For more information, visit portland2016.com.

• $400,000 for a joint project between Concordia University and Portland Public Schools to rebuild Faubion School as a PK-8 with more ties to the nearby university.

The council will consider and possibly change Hales' proposed budget over the next two months or so. The next Community Budget hearing is May 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m., City Hall Council Chambers, 1221 S.W. 4th Ave.

More information is available on the City Budget Office website at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo.