With police bureau layoffs looking very likely this year, Mayor Charlie Hales asked two of his fellow city commissioners to scare up some kind of one-time "bridge" money that would let police commanders trim their ranks through retirements and natural attrition rather than axing the city's least senior cops—who are also likely to be our most diverse cops.
Commissioners Nick Fish and Steve Novick have suggested tapping into the city's insurance reserves to make that possible—one of several controversial suggestions contained in a report (PDF) sent to Hales' office on Monday.
That recommendation is one of several Hales and his staff will consider as they get ready for his State of the City address (in two weeks from tomorrow) and then his proposed budget. Fish and Novick, in all, identified $4.7 million in one-time moeny for next year's budget and ongoing savings of $5.4 million. The city is now looking at a $21.5 million deficit with only as much as $800,000 in one-time money. Traditionally, the council has used millions in one-time money to fund programs that are, essentially, permanent.
The other big recommendations for the reserve cash include commissioning a study to thin the ranks of city management, something Multnomah County has already done, and easing some utility rate hikes.
In addition, the report includes some other potential suggestions for long-term savings above and beyond the 10 percent cuts bureaus were asked to provide. Two stand out:
(1) Cutting the $634,000 the city contributes to the county's Crisis Assessment and Treatment Center, which the Mercury revealed earlier this year has yet to be used by the police bureau. And (2) eliminating the police bureau's air support program, the planes it keeps in a hangar to help do surveillance and monitor protests from on high, for a savings of $155,000.