Hales roles out Portland budget with $43M in new spending - KPTV - FOX 12

Hales roles out Portland budget with $43M in new spending

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Mayor Hales roled out his new budget proposal for Portland Monday, looking to add $43M on new spending. (KPTV) Mayor Hales roled out his new budget proposal for Portland Monday, looking to add $43M on new spending. (KPTV)

Mayor Charlie Hales proposed his new budget for the Portland Monday, with his proposal immediately prompting some strong reactions.

Mayor Hales said the city is at a “juncture” and new spending is needed to address public safety, homelessness and housing affordability.

During a news conference outlining his new budget, the mayor proposed $43 million in new spending, and said the budget is centered on making an investment in "the people and their needs.”

“We want them to be excellent. We want them to be committed. We want them to be kind,” Hales said of the residents of Portland. “We want them to be conscious of their role in our community and to be conscious of the humanity of us all.”

The mayor is calling for an additional $11 million in spending to address urgent public safety priorities. That investment will include five new street-level gang outreach workers and the addition of 90 police officers to the force, along with the retention of 13 firefighters.

The mayor's proposal also calls for a total of $18.6 million to address the city's housing and homeless crisis, and he is asking for roughly $3 million to pay for a new enforcement program for the homeless.

”For people who refuse to adhere to our “Safe Guide - Safe Sleep” guidelines or who commit minor offenses, they'll be diverted from unproductive “arrests-book-release-arrest” and instead be connected to a program that assigns them a case worker that assess their needs and connects them to services as an alternative to jail time,” he explained.

Hales said this program is based on a program in Seattle, and that it's much more cost effective than treating homelessness like a crime.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the mayor's plan.

Many opponents said they're upset with a proposed tax hike on Portland businesses, saying it doesn't make sense at a time when the city is seeing record revenues.

The Portland Business Alliance released a statement saying in part:

"The city's general fund are at all all-time high, largely due to the fact that business license revenue has gone up 20 percent in Portland since 2014 and it continues to grow. It makes no sense to us that the mayor is choosing to increase the tax burden on our small business community rather than looking internally and reprioritizing his budget when significant new resources are available. Evidence of this is the fact that Portland has had a significant budget surplus two years in a row."

A full look at the mayor's proposed budget plan is available at PortlandOregon.gov.

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