City Budget Deficit, as Expected, Will Hit $25 Million


And yet, the City goes ahead and abuses the urban renewal system which diverts tax revenue from basic city and county services.…

Isn't something like 50% of tax revenue in Portland / Multnomah County basically swalled up by Urban Renewal debt repayment and pension liabilities?

Speaking of pensions and debt, which state far and away leads the nation in the amount of outstanding pension obligations bonds as a share of revenue?…

Essentially, we sold pension bonds in an arbitrage gamble that the interest payments on the bond would be less than the investment returns. How is that gamble paying off? There's a story here that demands local follow up.
I am a little surprised that you made no mention of urban renewal area funding. Maybe you are just quoting what you heard but the Merc hosted a pretty interesting discussion on the issue in partnership with the Bus Project a few years ago.

When I arrived in this town in 2001, about 16 percent of my general government property taxes were skipping the City's general fund and going directly to URAs.

Looking at my 2012 property tax statement, 27 percent of property taxes going to the city are now paying for Urban Renewal debt.

That is a dramatic share of revenue being shifted away from the general fund in favor of subsidizing private sector development in the URAs as well as capital intensive public projects, such as the Street Car.

The auditor has been clear in her concerns about the effect of URA expenses on the city's financial position and provides a lot of food for thought on this issue in this report:…

She has also made it clear that the new URA adopted this year - the "Education Zone" - is one of her biggest concerns when it comes to the City's immediate financial decisions and stability.

It would be great for the Merc to dig into this area of city funding. As choices are made for spending and debt in the URAs there needs to be a better sense of how those choices are affecting support for other basic city services - as well as school and county services.
Well I think Denis and I, between us, are running about a $25M surplus, so we'll just go halvsies - yo, Denis, we got this, yes?
The Merc does a generally good job of city reporting. But keep in mind the city budget is over 3.5 billion dollars, so 25 million is roughly .7%.
Sure CC! But only if we can both simultaneously descend upon our "we got this" press conference like Howard Stern at the Oscars.
Sure, $25 million is nothing. Nothing and nothing adds up to nothing. Portland's and Multnomah County's finances are perfectly fine. No need to question urban renewal abuses or unfunded pension liabilities.

We have a leaf tax, and an arts head tax, how about a grass tax? Maybe a being tax? We've got inefficient streetcars to run!