Mayor Hales highlights top priorities in budget

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Oct. 4, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Oct. 4, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales released his proposed spending plan for the city on Thursday.

Hales called this year’s budget the city’s first “stabilization budget,” which includes cuts in some area and more money for others.

With a little more than $9 million in discretionary funds, Hales revealed he wants the money spent on fighting homelessness, emergency preparedness and what he calls “making neighborhoods complete.”

Hales said he is asking for more than $2 million to go towards fighting the homeless problem in Portland with $1 million used for more outreach, referral and program for youth and the other million used to help leverage for more homeless housing.

Another million or so Hales requested for emergency preparedness to help develop the decommissioned Jerome Sears Reserve Center in to a west side shelter.

Third on his priority list was “making neighborhoods complete”, and Hales requested close to $2 million for that issue.

“We’re starting this year to take on some critical expenditures…it’s a particular priority of Commissioner Novick, but we all agree with him that we need to start doing more,” said Hales.

More than 140 city employees were laid off last year, but Hales said this year’s budget is mostly holding the line.

“For the moment, we’re not laying people off, and basically, we’re not adding them. We’re adding a net of seven and a half new positions to a new workforce of over 5,500 people,” Hales said.

Hales also proposed an increase for sewer and water rates that would add about $2 more a month to the average household bill. Money that Hales said is partly needed to continue to replace the aging systems in place and for future projects such as an earthquake-proof conduit across the Willamette River.

City council is expected to vote on Hales’ proposed budget in late May.

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