The budget season—Portland's fattest in some time, maybe ever—took on an improbable air of open warfare last night, as Commissioner Nick Fish and Mayor Charlie Hales traded jabs about what programs would have to be cut.
As we've reported at length, Hales doesn't appear to have support for an $8.7 million business tax increase. And a tentative proposal to use a new construction tax to bolster things besides housing might fall flat. Which means: Cuts!
Hales has suggested the money might have to come from services to homeless campers. Fish accused him last night of spreading "misinformation."
And according to public documents we've gotten ahold of, Fish is right: A proposal floated to commissioners offices on Wednesday detailing possible budget trims didn't sever $690,000 for "campsite services" like portable toilets, showers, day storage, and more. (An earlier proposal had axed that money.)
While it's important to note that conversations about this budget are fast moving, and can change any time, here are some of the areas where commissioners were looking to chop Hales' proposal as of Wednesday.
•$1.68 million for police body cameras
•$3 million for "police staffing." This is a proposed pay increase for cops Hales says would make the Portland Police Bureau competitive in terms of pay. But it would balloon in coming years, creating a deficit of around $6 million.
•$1.46 million for permanent improvements to Naito Parkway. This surprise initiative would've created downtown's only protected bike lane. Looks like it may have to wait.
•$2.29 million for a "diversion program" at the Portland Housing Bureau that Hales' staff crowed about when the mayor unveiled his budget. The idea was that homeless people who commit low-level crimes would be more successfully steered to services, rather than penalties. Looks like it might not survive.
•$55,000 to pay for a director the Rosewood Community Center.
•$500,000 for an "innovation fund" not tied to any bureau.
The council's not only considering cuts. It's moved a number of expenditures from ongoing —meaning they'd recur every year—to one-time-only. Those include "intensive street engagement" for homeless residents, money for grants, and $190,000 for Symphony in the Park.
And council's talking about adding money to certain things—most notably kicking $53,981 to Auditor Mary Hull Caballero, who's complained at being the only elected official who had service cuts under Hales' budget.
As I say, this could all change. It might have already. We'll know more Monday, when council has jammed in an extra work session to discuss all this. Commissioners need to approve a spending plan next week.