$700,000 expected in PBOT budget now gone

“We’re basically back where we started.”
— Tom Miller, PBOT Director, in an email to his budget advisory committee

Remember the $700,000 that was added back to the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s budget last month? Now it’s pretty much all gone.

Last Friday, outgoing PBOT Director Tom Miller emailed the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee to announce that new, lower projections for parking garage revenue means only about $100,000 of that $700,000 is now coming back to the budget. “We’re basically back where we started,” read Miller’s email.

With a bleak budget outlook, the news last month that the PBOT 2013-2014 budget gap would go from $4.5 million to $3.8 million led to immediate deal-making on PBOT’s Budget Advisory Committee. As we reported on December 12th, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance quickly went to work leading a coalition of BAC members who agreed to put the entire $700,000 worth of “add-back funds” toward active transportation.

The next day, the BTA sent out a fundraising email to their 5,000-plus members with the headline, “We won back $700,000 for active transportation and the victory is because of your support.” At the time, it was surprising they acted so quickly in announcing a “victory,” given that it was so early in budget negotations and that the PBOT budget has so many moving parts. While that proclamation seems even more premature given this new development, it’s worth noting that the BTA had reason to celebrate given the broad support they won around the BAC table.

Reached by phone this afternoon, BTA Advocacy Director (and PBOT budget committee member) Gerik Kransky said their public communications were a “fair characterization of the strong amount of support we had assembled.” “Now that that opportunity has evaporated, we’ll continue to work with our partners to find an opportunity add money back into active transportation.”

Of $4.5 million in cuts on the table, PBOT is currently proposing that $1.5 million of it comes directly out of active transportation related projects and programs. “That’s a deep cut that takes away popular programs,” added Kransky, “it’s the wrong direction to be moving.”

The next (and final) budget advisory committee meeting is on on Tuesday, January 15th. Learn more about the PBOT budget process on the City’s website.

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