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Fish submits ordinance to create Portland Utility Board


CITY OF PORTLAND - Commissioner Nick FishCommissioner Nick Fish filed an ordinance Friday to create the Portland Utility Board to help oversee spending by the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services.

The ordinance contains key recommendations presented to City Council by the 11-member Utility Oversight Blue Ribbon Commission chaired by former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton. Fish and Mayor Charlie Hales promised to appoint the commission during the unsuccessful ballot measure campaign to transfer control of the bureaus from the council to an independently elected board.

The council has already authorized a contract with the independent Citizens Utility Board to review the budgets of the two agencies.

“Today we are following through on a commitment to bring forward the BRC’s recommendations to improve public oversight of our public utilities,” Fish says. “In concert with a unique partnership with the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon, the PUB will bring a new level of accountability and transparency to our utilities.”

The ordinance can be read here.

The BRC submitted its final report to the council at a work session held in December 2014. The report recommended the formation of a year-round community oversight body, with dedicated professional staff under its direction, to be actively involved in upstream deliberations on utility bureau budgets, capital spending, policies, and programs.

Under the proposed ordinance, nine new board members will be appointed by the Mayor this summer. The goal is to have the PUB up and running for the next utility budget cycle.

The proposed ordinance will be considered by council at 10 a.m. on June 3. If approved, the new PUB will replace the existing Public Utility Review Board and the individual utility Budget Advisory Committees, and will report directly to the council.