Wheeler proposes $25M for homelessness, $600M for roads in budge - KPTV - FOX 12

Wheeler proposes $25M for homelessness, $600M for roads in budget

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Mayor Ted Wheeler unveiled his budget proposal Monday morning, with more than $25 million in new funding for homelessness programs and a $600 million plan for Portland roads but cuts to fire and police services.

Overall, Wheeler said Portland has more money than ever before, but the city is also spending more and is looking to make some tough budget cuts.

Wheeler says his plan would aggressively tackle homelessness and also will dedicate more funding to livability and housing issues. He contends that the $25 million would be the “largest investment ever” to address homelessness and that the cost would represent two-thirds of the city’s discretionary spending budget.

The money in that homelessness plan would go to new shelter beds, low-income housing and other programs. Wheeler’s plan would also add extra resources to patrol and clean the controversial Springwater Corridor, where many homeless camps have popped up in recent years.

The budget’s new infrastructure program called “Build Portland” would put $600 million over 20 years into upgrading roads, sidewalks, parks and city buildings.

While the Portland Police Bureau would lose its mounted horse patrol and face a reduction in funding for body cameras, the mayor proposed a program that would assign 12 community service officers to city streets.

In an effort to address housing prices, Wheeler proposed a new department called the Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs that would track rent data and connect tenants with resources.

INTERACT: Visualization Chart of Mayor Wheeler's Proposed Budget

Talking with reporters Monday morning, Wheeler said his budget was focused on what he believes the community wants to see, as well as programs that he said have shown results.

“This budget seeks to refocus on the services that I think the community wants us to see. If a program is popular, but it’s not working, it’s not going to get future funding,” he said. “And that’s going to continue to be the thrust of my investments. I want to see outcomes for every investment we make.”

The budget plan comes as Portland has seen record revenues but also faces a budget shortfall because of prior spending commitments like increasing police salaries and other funding for the homeless.

The city will now look to cut more than $2 million in costs, and cuts at the PPB, Wheeler said he supports cutting Portland Fire and Rescue’s dive team and some park maintenance, though a popular Portland Parks and Rec preschool program that was on the chopping block is now safe.

MORE: Mayor Wheeler's Full Proposed Budget Decisions

City commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal later this month, and the budget will be finalized in June.

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