Fight is on to save Portland community centers, jobs

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Parks and Recreation is once again looking at steep cuts to community centers and staff as city leaders craft next year’s budget.

The parks bureau is facing a $6.3 million budget shortfall, putting centers like the Columbia Pool and Sellwood Community Center and 50 jobs on the chopping block.

Tuesday night, the Portland City Council will hear from the public for the first time but employees are already speaking out about the longlasting impact of these potential cuts.

Southwest Community Center employee Ryan Sotomayer told KOIN 6 News he feels that rather than stripping away these services, the city should be adding more. 

“As parks employees, we’re always rallying every time the budget process happens,” Sotomayer said.

He said it feels like Deja Vu and now it’s back to battle.

“There are people who need the services whether it’s childcare, whether it’s preschool, whether it’s just basic recreation, these are vital services,” he said. “From my perspective, we shouldn’t be cutting parks, we should be expanding on parks.”

Frequently asked questions about the PP&R budget 

A spokesperson for Portland Parks and Recreation said for every $1 in cost, only $.73 comes from the general fund. It’s up to the bureau to make up the difference through fees and permits. For years, the costs have outpaced the money coming in.

Sotomayer thinks the city has the cash to fully fund the parks department.

“We’re talking about borrowing a cup of sugar from PBOT,” he said. “We’re talking about getting a bag of flour from the police bureau.”

In past years, people have rallied to save parks and community centers and they’ll try to do the same Tuesday night when they get a chance to give city commissioners their input. 

That community meeting will be held on Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the IRCO center on NE 103rd and Glisan. 

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