AS PORTLAND'S GOVERNMENT enjoys record tax revenues, city officials are bracing for cuts. Warning that rising costs for employee pay, pension obligations, and other factors might outstrip revenues, Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday asked directors of many city bureaus to sharpen their knives.
In a memo [PDF] offering “budget guidance,” Wheeler told bureaus funded by the city’s general fund to offer up 5 percent cuts. That’s a fairly routine message for mayors to send early in the budget process, but Wheeler is suggesting things will get dicey next year.
“The City Budget Office currently predicts these additional costs could add between $5 million and $25 million to the City budget,” the mayor writes. It’s possible some or all of that money will be covered by tax revenues, but the city’s budget staff have been clear: Growth can only last for so long.
In addition to cuts, Wheeler says any request for new, ongoing money should target housing and homelessness, infrastructure maintenance, public safety, livability, and innovation. DIRK VANDERHART
WITH LAST WINTER looming large, officials are ramping up cold-weather shelter options for Portland’s growing homeless population.
The county’s Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) this week announced a new shelter near Southwest 5th and Washington. The basement space will house up to 75 homeless men, giving priority to vets, the disabled, and people over 55 years of age.
The existing Salvation Army Female Emergency Shelter in Old Town will also add 35 beds for the winter, and officials are putting off the closure of a shelter at Southeast Grand and Stark until winter passes. The seasonal spaces are in addition to hundreds of new shelter beds that have been added in Portland to help alleviate the city’s housing woes.
Earlier this year, freezing temperatures led to several high-profile deaths from exposure among the city’s homeless population. They included David Guyott, a 68-year-old man who died of hypothermia while sitting at a downtown bus stop, and Karen Lee Batts, who had recently been evicted from low-income housing. DVH