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BTA-led coalition seeks to restore active transportation cuts in City budget

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
BTA’s Gerik Kransky (L) and freight
advocate Corky Collier after the PBOT Budget BAC
meeting yesterday.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

In the face of severe cuts to active transportation in the PBOT budget that came to light last month, a coalition led by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) presented a proposal yesterday to restore nearly half of them.

With dwindling revenue forecasts, PBOT has had cut their budget for several years now. This year’s gap was estimated to be $4.4 million. Of that, PBOT proposed $1.5 million in cuts to active transportation — $1 million from projects and $500,000 to programs and staffing. The cuts would impact programs like Sunday Parkways, Safe Routes to School, neighborhood greenway projects, and more. (more…)

PBOT budget proposal cuts active transportation by $1.5 million

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
Sunday-Parkways-SE-2012-3
A budget proposal by PBOT would end reduce
the City’s support of Sunday Parkways.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As PBOT grapples with a $4.4 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year, yesterday they proposed $1.5 in cuts that would directly impact biking and walking projects and programs.

Members of the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee heard about the proposed cuts at their meeting last night (the second of three meetings before the budget proposal moves into a public process phase). PBOT spokesman Dan Anderson confirmed the proposal with me today.

Of the $4.4 million in total needed cuts, $1.8 million will be slashed from projects and $2.6 million will come from operations/programs. (more…)

Facing further cuts, PBOT floats new revenue ideas at budget meeting

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
PBOT Director Tom Miller at a meeting
of his Budget Advisory Committee
last night.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The budget outlook for the Bureau of Transportation is a bit better this year than it was last year; but things are still grim. I attended the first of three PBOT Budget Advisory Committee meetings last night to get the lowdown and words like “triage” were being thrown around. But amid the doom and gloom, there are some interesting developments to report that could brighten the picture.

The big takeaway from last night is that PBOT is prepping for a $4.5 million budget gap in fiscal 2013-14 (which runs July-June). Those cuts are to be ongoing cuts, which means coupled with last year’s huge cuts, the bureau is seriously hurting. (more…)

PBOT Budget Advisory Committee asks Council to look at new revenue sources

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

It’s no secret that PBOT faces historic budget cuts. But there’s a big part of the conversation that hasn’t really gotten the attention it deserves: With gas tax and other motor vehicle-related revenues (like parking meters and registration fees) decreasing, more people choosing bikes and electric cars, and federal funding as unstable as ever, we need to figure out a new revenue stream.

Unfortunately, this discussion is hampered by politics. Raising the cost of using our transportation system is always makes for prickly politics, but especially in the current economic climate, elected officials around the region are loathe to propose new revenue streams. At the outset of this year’s budget talks at PBOT, Mayor Sam Adams — a man who pushed a major “street fee” initiative a few years ago — told his bureau director that he did not want to hear any ideas about new revenue. All talks about how to find more money, Adams said, were off the table.
(more…)

PBOT budget update: Cuts, consolidation, and no more ‘Options’

Friday, February 17th, 2012
Behind the scenes at SmartTrips
PBOT’s SmartTrips program is
among the cuts.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland’s Transportation Options Division — the group behind such popular programs as Sunday Parkways and SmartTrips — no longer exists as a stand-alone section of PBOT. The consolidation of Options into a new “Active Transportation” group within PBOT’s org chart — and the $350,000 cut that comes with it — is just one of the steps being taken to tighten operations and cut over $15 million in their ongoing discretionary budget.

Sunday Parkways and Neighborhood Greenways are also slated for significant cuts and 27 current PBOT employees will lose their jobs (most of the positions are labor/maintenance workers). (more…)

Commissioner Saltzman questions City spending on Sunday Parkways

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
Sunday Parkways NW 2011-32-31
Sunday Parkways is not a core
city service says Saltzman.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman has fired the first shot across the bow in what is likely just a preview of what’s to come in bruising fight over next year’s budget.

On the agenda at the City Council meeting this morning was a two-year $248,500 contract expense for local company Good Sport Promotion to manage the hundreds of volunteers it takes to put on PBOT’s Sunday Parkways events. According to Beth Slovic at The Oregonian, Saltzman spoke out in opposition to the contract — and funding for the event in general — at the council meeting. (more…)

Sunday Parkways, bike boulevards among “painful” PBOT budget cuts

Friday, January 6th, 2012
Leaves in bike lane on Naito
With budget cuts to bike lane
cleaning, you might want to
carry a broom.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has unveiled a list of proposed cuts intended to slash their discretionary budget by $15-16 million. The unprecedented cuts — which amount to about 20% of $70 million in discretionary revenue — comes as PBOT grapples with how continue providing services while revenue sources have failed to keep pace with demands and commitments made in previous years are now coming due.
(more…)

PBOT unveils major reforms to address budget crisis

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
Map shows PBOT’s new “streets of
citywide significance”.
- Download PDF-

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has released an update on their 2012-2013 budget situation. As we suspected, a major shrinking of their budget has resulted in a restructuring of how the bureau will prioritize spending. In other big news, PBOT Director Tom Miller has unveiled a set of “organizational evolutions” that will change the face of the bureau. (more…)

Union group, PBOT maintenance workers to speak out on budget cuts – Updated

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
Maintenance workers say potholes will
get worse, and people on bikes will
pay the price.
(Photo: Heather Andews)

With massive cuts coming from the Bureau of Transportation, there’s one group that is ready to stand up and defend their piece of the pie: maintenance workers. And people who bike should support them, says organizer Erica Askin.

According to a statement released by Laborer’s Local 483, PBOT maintenance workers and their community supporters will pack into City Hall this morning to “demonstrate opposition to the proposed $16.2 million in cuts to the Bureau’s ongoing budget.”

Askin, who plans to represent the workers with testimony at the City Council meeting this morning, met with PBOT staff yesterday. According to a union spokesperson, Askin brought up two key reasons for protecting the maintenance budget: emergency vehicle access and “cyclists depend on the roads too.” (more…)

Mayors Adams still committed to sidewalk funding

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Street Smart campaign launch event-7-6
Adams says sidewalk spending
commitment is rock-solid.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A story in The Oregonian published Friday (and an irresponsible Tweet by BikePortland) might have you thinking that Mayor Sam Adams — grappling with a tight budget at the Bureau of Transportation — has broken a promise to invest in sidewalks in East and Southwest Portland.

“Cracks have appeared in Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ pledge to build new sidewalks” is the opening line in The Oregonian story. In a Tweet about that story, I wrote “Mayor Adams backed off promise to build sidewalks due to budget.” “Not true at all,” Adams replied, “but I agree that is the impression the article falsely conveys.”

With historic cuts coming to PBOT, many in the community are watching Adams’ spending decisions — especially those that impact biking and walking — very closely.

What follows is more context behind Adams’ decision and how a local walking advocacy group is taking the news. (more…)

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