Portland weighing how to spend $11M surplus


The city’s coffers are flush but expensive problems need solutions.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The city of Portland has an $11 million surplus.

While the city’s coffers are flush, expensive problems need solutions.

“This year will likely end up being the fastest year of local economic growth since the tech bubble in the late 1990s,” city economists wrote in the report from the City Budget Office. “Job growth has been widespread and income growth is finally ramping up after years of stagnation.”

The City Council already has tough budget decisions to make that could cut into any surplus. Fire officials want money for 13 firefighter jobs that will no longer be paid for through an expiring grant. The City Council is also expecting to pay potentially millions of dollars to parks workers as part of an ongoing labor dispute

Portland also must decide whether to follow a policy it approved in January to dedicate half of any budget windfalls to transportation, parks or emergency management maintenance.

(READ MORE: OregonLive.com)

Dealing with gang violence, homelessness, affordable housing and other languishing services should be addressed.

“What the city is likely to do with new money is invest in kids, invest in housing and homelessness, and make sure we have enough police officers,” Hales said. 

But the mayor said the barrier to hiring more officers is more about finding qualified candidates than about boosting the police budget.

(READ MORE: OPB)

City employees will receive a 1.7 percent cost of living adjustment.

On the revenue side, the city projects sizable increases in property taxes near year and taxes from transient lodging, likely related to the increased use of Airbnb and similar services. But utility franchise fees from telecommunications companies are dropping, as households move away from cable television subscriptions.

The next economic forecast comes in April, which will be used by the City Council to set the actual 2016-17 budget.

(READ MORE: Portland Tribune)

On what would you like to see the money spent?

RELATED NEWS: City Club pushes for Portland streets funds

 


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