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Portland City Council prepares to discuss budget amendments including increased funding for police, homeless

Mayor Ted Wheeler has proposed using surplus revenue to fund significant investments in police and homeless support as part of the annual fall budget adjustment
Credit: vmargineanu - stock.adobe.com

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland City Council could vote as early as Wednesday on an updated budget that includes two large-scale investment packages proposed by Mayor Ted Wheeler in recent weeks: one aimed at addressing the city's homeless crisis and the other seeking to boost the ranks of the Portland Police Bureau.

The homeless investment proposal would draw on funding from a recent unexpected surplus in the city's business tax revenue. The extra dollars will be incorporated into the city's budget as part of an annual amendment process called the Fall Budget Monitoring Process (BMP).

Wednesday's afternoon council agenda is largely devoted to a BMP public hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and continue for three hours. Nearly 250 people had signed up to testify about the supplemental budget as of noon on Tuesday.

RELATED: Portland Firefighters' Association pushes for extra funding to fully staff Southeast Portland fire station

A vote is currently scheduled to take place after a second hearing at the council's Nov. 17 meeting, but the council could opt to vote tomorrow via an emergency clause amendment, according to Wheeler's office.

Wheeler, city commissioner Dan Ryan and Multnomah County chair Deborah Kafoury announced the homeless crisis package on Nov. 1, outlining a $38 million plan to increase the number of available shelter beds, hire more outreach workers and boost community cleanup programs. 

Half the funding would come from Portland and the other half would come from the county, which recently brought in an unexpected business tax revenue surplus of its own.

Wheeler released his slate of police proposals two days later, including a plan for equipping Portland police officers with body-worn cameras and a target of hiring 200 officers and 100 unarmed community safety specialists in the next three years. 

RELATED: Mayor Wheeler proposes $2.65 million for Portland police body cams

He also called for the introduction of hiring and longevity bonuses and a "retire-rehire" option to try to extend the tenure of 25 recently-retired or soon-to-be-retired officers this year and another 25 next year, as well as steps to improve the city's ability to quickly answer and triage 911 calls.

The overall package cost about $10.1 million, split between various city departments.

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