PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced plans for $32 million in budget cuts during Tuesday’s City Council work session – including cuts to jobs and several programs.
The budget cut proposal comes after PBOT warned of “dramatic” service disruptions amid their $32 million deficit.
According to PBOT, Portlanders could see “major impacts” to all transportation services starting July 2024, and employees could see layoff notices in the spring — proposing cuts to more than 100 jobs.
In a slideshow presentation to city council, PBOT said their “ability to deliver even the most basic transportation services is at risk,” noting the bureau must cut $32.6 million of their available $99 million in funds in 2024.
“If we must make a $32 million cut, you will not have the Portland Bureau of Transportation that you see today,” PBOT Director Millicent Williams said.
PBOT says cuts could slow down services and reduce their ability to invest in maintenance and safety by July 2024.
PBOT proposed cuts throughout several areas — noting cuts to areas such as bridge maintenance, pavement inspection, campsite cleanup funds, landslide and emergency repair work, and equipment reserves.
PBOT said cutting from other bureaus could help. Another proposed solution is restoring utility license fee payments to levels set in 1988, which the bureau says could bring in $25 million every year.
The bureau is also looking at other new revenue options like parking increases, street damage fees, and street fees.
According to PBOT, the shortfall comes after five years of budget cuts – including $20.5 million and 60 full-time equivalent positions – along with a historic drop in State Highway Fund and parking revenues.
Kicking off the meeting, Commissioner Mingus Mapps – who is in charge of PBOT – said “I will be frank, I expect this budget cycle to be the most painful that any of us have faced during our time on this council.” Commissioner Mapps noted the “pain” stems from Portland’s economic recovery, homelessness and public safety concerns.
Mapps says PBOT has a structural financial problem, noting the bureau is largely funded by parking fees and gas taxes, adding that gas tax revenues have been in decline with electric cars becoming more popular. The commissioner also highlighted that more community members are working and shopping from home so parking meter revenues are in steep decline.
“Let me be clear, there is no way to cut $30 million from PBOT’s budget without deeply undermining Portland’s transportation system,” Mapps said. “There are only two ways to balance PBOT’s budget. We can cut services or we can raise revenues.”
During the work session, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said more work needs to be done.
“We need activation, we need events, we need to bring community together we need to support safety issues so that so that people feel that they can walk, that they can bike safely in our community and so I’m not willing, frankly, to accept most of the cut,” Wheeler said.