PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland city leaders are set to discuss how they plan to spend more than $30 million from the surplus budget as the city continues to struggle with a rise in violence and homelessness.
The work session will include discussions on how to spend the city’s $31 million in surplus funds. The main focus of those discussions is expected to be about recruiting more police officers and how to increase homeless services in the city.
It is set to take place at 2 p.m. and will be streamed on the city’s website. KOIN 6 News will provide updates as new information becomes available.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and some commissioners say they want the bulk of the money to go toward the Portland Police Bureau.
“It’s not just me talking anymore,” he said “There seems to be sufficient support from city council to hire more officers.”
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has previously said she opposes increasing police staffing — however, she recently stated she is now willing to consider Wheeler’s rehiring request.
That request asks for around $7 million to hire back retired police, increase the Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Response Team and expand the Portland Street Response Program citywide.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Wheeler also announced he intended to devote $2.65 million to equip every Portland police officer with body cameras, describing it as a “necessary component of modern policing to increase transparency and accountability.”
To attract more officers to the force, Wheeler said that he will propose $25,000 signing bonuses to the first 50 officers who are qualified or PS3 recruits. He also wants to add longevity bonuses to improve retention within PPB.
The increase in gun violence comes at a time when officials have said PPB is “critically understaffed.” Now, Wheeler and other city leaders said they aim to address the violence by beefing up police numbers.
Other large recommendations include money to upgrade the Portland Metro levee system and investing in Portland Fire and Rescue’s fire station security.