Portland officials: City budget outlook improving

The City Council could have up to $31 million to spend in the next fiscal year.

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The Portland City Council could have up to $31 million to spend in the next fiscal year.

Revisions from the City Budget Office indicate a booming economy, OregonLive.com reports.

The City Budget Office’s December forecast said the City Council could expect $14.4 million in one-time resources and $4.6 million in ongoing general fund dollars to spend however it likes. But revised revenue projections show politicians could have $19.6 million in one-time resources and $11.5 million in on-going money to spend, according to a press release from Mayor Charlie Hales’ office.

The city’s general fund primarily pays for parks, police and fire services. The general fund, $426.7 million in the current fiscal year, is the largest discretionary pool of money for the City Council. Business licenses fees and property taxes are the primary funding sources for the general fund.

Commissioner Steve Novick — who heads the Bureau of Transportation and has asked for a large share of that money — emailed the press Tuesday to advocate for setting money aside for “emergency preparedness.” 

Novick also told the Portland Tribune on Tuesday that will seek re-election in 2016.

“There are a number of issues I’m working on, any one of which could keep me busy until 2017 and beyond,” the first-term City Council member said in the Tribune’s story.

Novick told the Tribune that his priorities are with ensuring the transportation department makes necessary changes, retrofitting buildings for earthquake preparedness, moving public-school start times back to 9 a.m., among other things.

•  Crafting city rules to require developers to include affordable units in their multi-family housing projects, assuming the 2015 Oregon Legislature repeals the law against so-called inclusionary zoning.

• Continuing to work on the two new high capacity transit lines currently being planned. One is between Portland and Gresham, and the other is between Portland and Tualatin. The Powell-Division project to Gresham is currently expected to include the region’s first Bus Rapid transit line. No decision has yet been made on the type of transit in the Southwest Corridor project to Tualatin.

The City Council has an agenda laden with business-related items today, the Portland Business Journal reports.

At 2 p.m., City Hall will address the issue of Uber with a discussion about permitting requirements.

Just 15 minutes later, commissioners will discuss changes to urban renewal areas.

The last matter to be discussed will be Hales’ “ban the box” measure that would make it harder for business owners to perform criminal background checks on prospective employees.