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MATHIEU LEWIS-ROLLAND

Update, May 5: Wheeler's office has posted the mayor's proposed budget online. You can view the document here.

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Original story, May 4:

An unexpected surge in business tax revenue has given Mayor Ted Wheeler an extra $34.8 million in public dollars to spend in the city's annual budget. In a document released to the media Wednesday morning, Wheeler outlined where he'd like to see these extra one-time funds land.

According to City Budget Director Jessica Kinard, city economists initially estimated having about $28 million in one-time funding—a pot of revenue comprised of different tax sources—available for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins on June 1. That's largely because the city expected local businesses to be financially hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in low Business License Tax revenues. Instead, Portland saw the city's largest companies bring in hefty profits, which resulted in significant taxes.

This financial boost helps backfill gaps in some bureau's requested budgets that Wheeler wasn't expecting to fill. Wheeler proposes spending those one-time funds in a variety of areas, broken down as follows:

Equity


$300,000 to fund a study to "develop a waterfront legacy project for indigenous people."
$450,000 to add three short-term employees to the Office of Equity and Human Rights to "establish accountability systems for city policies and programs."
$1.2 million to Prosper Portland (the city's urban development bureau) to create a two-year strategy addressing gentrification that will "ensure inclusive housing and economic opportunities as the area grows and changes."
$1 million to the Albina Vision Trust to help develop the organization's master plan and support a land banking program.

Climate


$450,000 to fund three short-term employees to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to establish accountability systems for the city's climate action plans.
$935,720 to BPS to fully fund the bureau’s requested packages to address "climate emergency and climate resiliency needs."

Government Performance


$1.2 million to create three short-term positions to create a comprehensive data sharing dashboard reflecting the city's public safety work.
$800,000 to expand strategic planning work within the Office of Management and Finance.

Public Safety


$1.6 million to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to address crime in three areas of "high-needs": funding officer overtime to help clear PPB's criminal investigation backlog; funding outreach to educate Portlanders on the makes and models of most commonly stolen vehicles; and funding for mechanic shops in underserved neighborhoods to provide catalytic converter tagging and identification procedures to prevent theft.
$3.9 million to hire 28 unarmed PPB employees known as Public Safety Support Specialists, or PS3s, and four administrative and managerial positions.
$847,231 to cover the salaries of five new 911 operators to the Bureau of Emergency Communications over the course of two years.
$1 million to go towards the city's existing programs to address gun violence.

Housing


$575,400 to the Portland Housing Bureau to convert two city properties into affordable housing.

Livability


$1.25 million to expand the city's trash and graffiti program.

Economic Recovery


$750,000 to Prosper Portland to create a marketing campaign that will draw patrons to local small businesses.
$250,000 to study the potential of creating a permanent location for the pop-up My People's Market
$165,000 to hire one short-term employee to evaluate the city's "long term art and culture programs and policies."
$350,000 to support art and culture companies and nonprofits who financially struggled due to the pandemic.
$250,000 to pay for a third party to identify future uses of the Mt. Tabor Reservoir.

Infrastructure


$9.2 million to Portland Parks and Recreation to replace Mt. Scott Community Center roof and redevelop downtown Portland's O'Bryant Square.
$2.5 million to demolish the current Broadway Corridor site, which includes the vacant U.S. Postal Service facility, to prepare the site for a future affordable housing facility.
$4.7 million to repave SE Division while TriMet works on its new SE Division transit project.

These investments are currently separate from Wheeler's complete proposed budget, which was also released to media Wednesday.

The proposed budget expands the current number of sworn PPB staff by three, and the number of unarmed PS3s by 42 (a total that does not include the previously mentioned PS3s). Wheeler proposes funding these additional positions with the salaries currently set aside for 43 vacant PPB officer positions. Wheeler's proposed PPB budget also includes funds to help accelerate new hires of already-funded officer positions, cover the cost of expanding PPB's "wellness" program (which offers emotional, physical, and mental health support to officers), and to support staff in the county prosecutors and defenders offices to handle data from the coming PPB body worn camera program.

As expected, Wheeler's budget also supports the request to expand Portland Street Response by 34 new employees to allow the program to operate 24/7 citywide, with a $11 million investment.

Other significant investments include: $1.8 million to expand the number of Portland Park Rangers responsible for visitor safety at Portland parks, $2.9 million reserved for expanding the 311 system to operate 24/7, $36.2 million to fund six Safe Rest Villages and two Creating Conscious Communities with People Outside (C3PO) villages for two years, $8.26 million to support a motel shelter program for homeless Portlanders, $5.8 million for land banking for affordable housing, $10.2 for gun violence million for Office of Violence Prevention, and $3.3 million in traffic signal installation and upgrades.

All proposals will be made public and addressed during a budget work session at 9:30 am Thursday. The public will be able to comment on Wheeler's proposed budget later Thursday during a 6:30 pm public hearing.