Portland expects $50M in spending money


2015-16 budget bolstered by business license fees.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Bolstered by “soaring” business license fees, the city of Portland government is expecting about $50 million in spending money for the 2015-16 budget.

That number represents the highest the general fund has ever reached. That fund covers services such as fire, police, parks and others, OregonLive.com reports.

The final tally: $13.1 million in new ongoing revenue for the City Council to allocate, plus $35.9 million in one-time spending in the fiscal year that begins July 1. The robust forecast comes days before Mayor Charlie Hales is set to release his proposed budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“This increase in resources will allow the City to further prioritize basic services,” Hales said in a statement Thursday. “Residents can expect that my proposed budget next week will include substantial investments in paving, parks and housing.”

Commissioner Steve Novick quickly expressed his opinion on what to do with the money. 

From the Portland Tribune:

“I urge Mayor Hales to dedicate at least 50 percent of the one-time revenue to transportation maintenance and safety, and the lion’s share of the new ongoing revenue to addressing, one way or another, the problems with the Portland building.

“By allocating $18 million for transportation, the city could invest $10 million in paving and other major maintenance projects, and pay for the full $8 million in improvements to safety and access to transit along 122nd that TriMet and community members have identified as a significant need. TriMet has told us that making those investments would strengthen the case for making frequent service on 122nd a priority, and East Portlanders have told us loud and clear that improved service on that route is critically important. “Meanwhile, if the Portland Building is unusable after an earthquake, it will be very difficult for city government to function. If city government can’t function, Portland’s ability to respond to and recover from the earthquake will be severely compromised. Fixing or replacing the building is a classic example of the kind of investment that responsible leaders make, knowing there isn’t anything glamourous about it. The details matter, of course, and I’m not yet endorsing any particular plan for the future of the Portland Building.”

Budget officials indicated the influx of cash could be used “to make large scale investments in city infrastructure.”

Further south down the Willamette Valley, the Lane County government finds itself in financial straits if voters reject an increase to vehicle registration fees.

The Register-Guard reports:

The equivalent of 18 full-time road maintenance employees would be let go by July 1, part of the county’s effort to balance road expenses with road revenues. The budget proposal is far from final. Released by Lane County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky, it’s just the first step in a nearly two-month process by county commissioners and a five-member citizen budget committee to finalize a budget for the new fiscal year, which runs July 1 to June 30, 2016.

Most of Lane County’s dozens of departments and divisions wouldn’t see dramatic changes. The proposed budget shows a 1 percent increase in revenue and expenses over the current fiscal year. But a steady reduction in federal money given to timber-­dependent counties means expenses for road maintenance staff and materials are outpacing revenue coming into the department by millions of dollars a year, county officials said.

 




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