If Mayor Tom Potter had a thumbtack and a bulletin board, this stage of the city's budget process would be exactly like the high school drama department's spring musical auditions—with hopeful city commissioners counting down the hours until Potter's budget decisions are posted. Some of the commissioners' proposals will make the cut, while others will have to try again next year.
Potter broke the news to the commissioners—each of whom has had their eye on a certain role... er, bureau funding request—on Monday night, April 14. He had $33 million in extra general fund revenue to dole out, and this year, Commissioner Dan Saltzman scored the lead role: His "One-Stop Domestic Violence Center" proposal is funded to the tune of $1.5 million, plus nearly half a million in ongoing annual funds. Considering the fact that helping domestic violence victims is more of a county job, Saltzman deserves a standing ovation for convincing Potter to open the city's wallet. (He also got $2.7 million to retire the Parks Levy, so it doesn't have to go to back to voters.)
Not surprisingly, Potter nearly cut Commissioner Sam Adams from the budget entirely, relegating him to a bit part. (Take that, Adams! That'll show you not to upstage the director by doing crazy things like, oh, trying to accomplish anything relevant during your tenure.) Though Adams had asked for $4 million to get started on projects related to his Safe, Sound, and Green Streets proposal—things like rehabbing SE Hawthorne and further funding the Safe Routes to School program (the sort of safety and basic infrastructure things Potter expressed support for just last week, when questioning Adams' funding priorities)—Potter gave him zilch, and also axed all the arts and culture requests. Instead, the mayor's budget proposal funds four of Adams' 12 other Portland Department of Transportation requests, tossed in another $800,000 to fill a budget shortfall, for a total of $3.5 million. Potter made a point of highlighting $1.6 million in funds for a project he did deem worthy: Sidewalks along NE Cully.
Former Commissioner Erik Sten may have dropped out before callbacks, but Potter is still tossing $6.5 million toward things like the Schools, Families, and Housing initiative and the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. And Commissioner Randy Leonard scored a quarter million bucks for two 24-hour restrooms in Old Town.
But Potter—as the director of this production—really made himself the star. From nearly $300,000 for his SAFE committee, to almost $5 million to begin replacing the outdated 911 communications system, nearly half of the $33 million went to projects in Potter's portfolio.
But unlike the time the director didn't cast you in your school's revival of Sound of Music—and didn't entertain your stage mom's protests—these decisions aren't final. Following a few public hearings—and possible political wrangling—the council will vote on the budget in June.