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Mayor's budget: some cuts for east Portland


In March, Portland City Council held a budget hearing in east Portland at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.
Mid-county Memo photo/Tim E. Curran
Mayor Charlie Hales' draft budget, while kinder to neighborhood involvement programs in East Portland and elsewhere than previous projections suggested, still calls for significant cuts.

The East Portland Neighborhood Office is a branch of the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and receives most of its funding from that bureau. Last winter Hales asked ONI and all other city bureaus to submit budgets with a 10 percent reduction from fiscal year 2012-13 levels. Hales' own draft budget calls for only a three percent cut for ONI.

Even so, the current ONI budget eliminates the popular Neighborhood Small Grant programs, a $200,000 fund distributed through EPNO and the city's six other neighborhood offices and coalitions to neighborhood associations and other community groups for special projects. It also retains cuts to communications funds that, among other things, fund the East Portland News. As before, carry-over funds from previous years will allow EPNO to publish four editions of the newsletter as planned, but unless there are new appropriations, there will be money for only one edition in 2014.

The budget did allocate $279,000 to continue the work of the East Portland Action Plan next fiscal year, but a budget note that said the program should “ramp down” and prepare for a cut-off in funding next go-around accompanied it. In a letter to Hales, the EPAP Steering Committee asked him to reconsider this position. “The EPAP as a plan has a life span, and we are not at its end,” they wrote. “The action plan is still a very effective tool that is contributing great value to the city in its quest for equity and redress of persisting substandard conditions in East Portland. This value will diminish in coming years, but we believe it is premature to have this budget not in place at this time.” According to Lore Wintergreen, EPAP's city paid advocate, Hales has since softened his stance on future funding somewhat.

In a related matter, the budget calls for cuts to the Portland Development Commission. These include reductions of more than $30,000 to Venture Portland, which serves as a support system for neighborhood business associations in much the same way that ONI does for residential groups. Executive Director Heather Hoell told city council at a public hearing that if the reduction went through it could reduce by half the grants that Venture Portland makes available to groups such as the Parkrose Business Association and the Gateway Area Business Association.

There were cuts as well to the bureaus of Parks, Fire and Police (including loss of some mounted patrol). Representatives of all three bureaus complained that the cuts would have major negative effects on the city.

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