PHOENIX – Portland, Ore. Mayor Ted Wheeler's first proposed city budget includes $600 million over 20 years to build and improve roads, parks and other infrastructure.
Wheeler’s fiscal 2018 budget, introduced May 1, is a $39 billion dollar blueprint that the mayor said is aimed at improving livability for the residents of Oregon’s most populous city. A big part of that is the "Build Portland" infrastructure agenda, which includes the periodic issuance of debt, according to city budget documents.
It's Wheeler's first budget as mayor. He was previously Oregon's state treasurer.
The mayor’s budget makes an initial investment of $50 million in Build Portland, with additional investments of $100 million to $150 million every five years, according to a fact sheet released by Wheeler’s office. “The plan does not raise taxes and does not cut into existing services. Rather, by leveraging returning revenues from expiring Urban Renewal Districts, Build Portland will create a consistent, dedicated source of revenue to reverse our city’s historical disinvestment in critical infrastructure.”
Wheeler’s proposal also includes some additional spending to combat homelessness, such as more than $25 million in general fund resources to the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
“These are the issues I hear about every day when I talk to Portlanders,” said Wheeler in a statement. “My budget makes significant investments in the things people care about that city government is uniquely positioned to address.”
But Wheeler is also looking to cut some funding to offset some $12 million in spending that has not yet been offset. While some of that spending was “laudable,” Wheeler said, he believed it was important to recognize the need for cuts moving forward and requested that bureaus submit nearly $15 million in possible budget cuts.
“Portland’s economy is booming, with unemployment at its lowest point in decades and another record year for business license tax revenues,” Wheeler said. “However, recent city budget trends reveal the need for a prudent fiscal approach and a renewed focus on the core responsibilities of city governance. My proposed budget focuses our limited resources on the things that make a real difference in the lives of Portland residents. By doing so we can put our city on the right track and set ourselves up for long-term success.”
Wheeler assumed the office in January after being elected last year.
The city council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the budget May 11, with adoption to follow some weeks after that. The budget would take effect July 1.