Wheeler seeks 5% cuts in next budget

Mayor Ted Wheeler will submit the next budget to City Council this coming spring

Mayor Ted Wheeler at Portland City Hall, November 21, 2017 (KOIN)
Mayor Ted Wheeler at Portland City Hall, November 21, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Mayor Ted Wheeler has directed general fund bureaus to cut their proposed budgets for next year by 5 percent. Wheeler included the request in the directions he has sent to all bureaus to help him prepare the next budget he will submit to the City Council this coming spring.

Although city revenues are at an all-time high, Wheeler says the City Budget Office is projecting a potential deficit of up to $25 million because of increasing costs, including raises in new union contracts and higher Public Employee Retirement System contributions.

“Despite this great abundance, the City’s budget continues to operate at a deficit as costs continue to grow faster than revenues,” Wheeler wrote to all city elected officials and budget directors on Nov. 17.

Wheeler also said he wants to increase funding for such priorities as homeless services, affordable housing, and infrastructure maintenance.

“As demand for housing outpaces supply, rents and home prices are pushed higher, creating housing pressures and increasing the overall cost of living in Portland. Addressing our housing and homelessness crises, along with providing adequate resources to public safety and critical infrastructure, will require hard choices,” Wheeler wrote.

But Wheeler also said some cuts should also improve city operations.

“Bureaus should submit reduction options that identify efficiencies, reduce or eliminate noncor services or services that do not scale well, eliminate City-imposed mandates that have not resulted in demonstrable benefits, and reduce indirect costs and administration that do not harm front-line services,” Wheeler wrote.

The December revenue forecast will have more accurate projections. According to Wheeler, it is likely to include one-time revenues that can be spent on specific projects, such as technology improvements.

General fund dollars are the most discretionary and come from such sources as property taxes, business license fees and utility fees. Bureaus that generate their own revenues are exempt from the 5 percent reduction requirement, but as expected to submit prudent budgets.

The Portland Tribune is KOIN 6 News media partner