Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 11th, 2011 at 5:48 pm
As reported last week by The Oregonian, the City of Portland faces steep cuts in its 2012-2013 budget.
"As a result of global, national, and local factors that may impact the City and the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook," reads a memo sent to all agency directors from City Council last week, "we are asking bureaus... to prepare significant program cuts for FY 2012-2013."
While a more detailed analysis of the revenue forecast isn't expected until December, the writing is on the wall — cuts will have to be made. The big question for is, where?
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has the added hardship of being faced with a decline in state gas-tax revenues. According to The Oregonian, Mayor Adams has asked PBOT to "slash almost $7 million from its budget immediately" due to a decline in state gas-tax revenue. Adams and his Council colleagues are asking all bureaus to prepare their budgets with cuts up to 8 percent.
Back in March of 2010, the City's budget office told PBOT to scale back its Sunday Parkways plans because they couldn't support the program "when basic services are being cut." Parkways has had to work hard for its funding ever since it started in 2008. Options Division staffers have even had to resort to pleas for citizen donations. Sunday Parkways got $170,000 in "one-time funding" in the last budget cycle, that helped PBOT put on five events this past summer (at an estimated cost of $470,000 total). But that type of one-time funding is unlikely this time around and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a big boost in private sponsorship of the event going forward.
In 2009, the Safe Routes to School program faced a 40% budget reduction. That threat spurred the community and the BTA into action. In the end, Mayor Adams found a way to restore funding for the program and the budget passed with smiles all around.
Will these cherished programs withstand budget scrutiny? How will PBOT balance its funding between repaving, streetcar, bikes, and the myriad other line items in its $219 million budget?
Making this coming budget process even more interesting is the Mayoral race. Not only will it be Mayor Adams' final chance to influence the budget, but we can also expect to hear about spending priorities on the campaign trail.
Stay tuned. This budget season will likely be very interesting.