In a stark change from the hellfire spewed over the city's budget last month, the final City Council vote on the new budget, which needed to fill a $5.3 million budget gap, was a friendly backslapping fest in which all five commissioners delivered "aye" votes and little orations that resembled Academy Awards acceptance speeches.
"I'd like to thank the office of management and finance," said Mayor Sam Adams.
"I'd like to thank my staff," said Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
With the restoration of the mounted patrol, there wasn't much to bicker about except a
12 6.35 percent sewer rate increase (edit: the Water Bureau rate increase is 12 percent). Economist Eric Fruits and perennial anti-bike nutjob Terry Parker turned up to speak against the increase, specifically pointing the blame fingers at Mayor Adams' controversial plan to spend $20 million in sewer contract savings to build bioswales on bike boulevards.
Adams hit back by saying the road improvements would make streets safer for bikes and pedestrians. "The vast majority of the city budget is spent on car infrastructure. A tiny fraction goes to things like bikes," said Adams before his 'aye' vote. "We had 151 people killed on our streets and roads in the last four years. That outpaces murder. It doesn't get a lot of press." If the savings were passed along to ratepayers instead of put into the bioswale fund, each Portlander would get a check for 90 cents.
The rest of the conversation from the commissioners was mostly along the lines of, "Boy! We've done a good job tightening our belt!"
"It's a lot more fun to be Santa Claus at budget time than to be Scrooge," said Commissioner Nick Fish. "I'm pleased that as we've made the tough choices, this budget protects my priorities." While Fish's housing and parks budgets are both less than last year's, the cuts to homeless services are $1 million less than his office originally feared. Another day at council, another two steps forward, one step back.