money should be spent first and foremost on the people’s
While Portlanders disagree on the value of specific
public investments, there is wide agreement among respondents
that tax dollars should be spent with the utmost efficiency,
transparency and equity. There is also broad consensus
that public expenditures should advance the public’s
priorities over the priorities of what are perceived
to be special interests. Respondents would also like
to see more efficiency in government spending. Many
were unsure how their money is being spent, believing
much gets wasted in the current government system (also
They would like to see less duplication of effort and
more coordination between different bureaus and agencies.
They would also like to see more spending on preventative
measures that are cost-effective and long-lasting. Community
members would like greater public participation in the
budgeting process, believing their interests will be
better served if they are more involved. They also call
for a number of changes to the budgeting process itself,
as well as the form of city government, with the overarching
goal of better aligning spending with long-term city
money should be spent efficiently, equitably and with
needs to be better aligned with the community’s vision
for the city as a whole.
- Spending should be cost-effective
and focused on prevention.
- Spending should be geared
towards “fixing the basics first.”
- Development spending needs
to better serve neglected areas.
money efficiently, equitably and with transparency.
- Even Portlanders who support higher taxes
want to be assured that the government is
doing the best possible job with the money
it already has and that spending is fair.
- Many people are concerned about who currently
benefits most from expenditures of public
money (e.g., developers, the poor, the wealthy,
big business, close-in neighborhoods). The
belief expressed is that the benefits of public
spending are not distributed equitably across
- Many people are unsure about how their
money is spent and believe that much of it
is wasted in the current government system.
- The more efficient, accountable and transparent
spending is, the more willing people are to
continue paying taxes for the services the
2030] City and County have made clear,
complementary business cases for their
missions and investments. Services reflect
citizen willingness to pay. With clear
identities, city and county interact effectively
with service partners (fed/state/metro/profit,
a citizen-based audit committee, and allow
them access to the records, including
suggesting areas of revenue/outlay they
may not know exists.”
- Increase public
involvement in the budgeting process.
with the nonprofit community to reduce
costly duplication of services.
- Ensure that the city's
fee structure is more open and honest.
- Improve monitoring of city investments.
- “A complete and independent
audit of the city’s finances and
- Have City Council issue a report
to the public on budget allocations,
specifying how much is spent and on what items.
needs to be better aligned with the community’s
vision for the city as a whole.
- Much frustration is voiced over spending
decisions that do not seem to benefit the
city as a whole. The OHSU tram is frequently
- Elected officials are viewed as making decisions
to advance specific agendas rather than decisions
that benefit the entire city or move the city
towards a concrete, collective vision.
- The quote “Portland is in a pet project
rut” articulates many people’s frustration
with investments and spending decisions that
do not seem tied to a cohesive, city-wide
vision for the future.
- Many are frustrated with the City for giving
tax breaks to people already perceived as
wealthy (developers, condo owners) when there
are still so many unmet basic needs for food,
shelter, medical care and high quality education.
- A very large number of Portlanders want
the City to spend public funds on projects
that enhance community livability for everyone,
not just for certain groups.
talk a great deal about keeping a focus
on the working poor, the under or uninsured,
about improving our schools and strengthening
our communities. But we also pour a lot
of our resources into developments that
will benefit the most advantaged or into
projects that may have a great deal of
immediate appeal (city-wide WiFi, the
tram, sports teams, etc…) but aren’t necessarily
a great use of our resources.”
dollars spent wisely on projects to benefit
the whole city rather than a few.”
spending to long-term goals that
reflect the people’s priorities and are accompanied
by measurable outcomes.
- Increase the resources
available to neighborhoods so they
can make some of their own spending decisions.
- Create budgets
that are longer than one or two years
and implement full life-cycle budgeting
should be cost-effective and focused on prevention.
- Many people call for spending to prevent
problems, rather than having to invest large
sums of money to fix problems after they’ve
- Preventative spending is seen as being more
cost-effective over the long-run than reactionary
spending that addresses problems only when
they reach a crisis point.
- People see the following as examples of
- Improving public education;
- Protecting air, water and overall environmental
- Creating housing that is truly affordable
to people of all income levels, including
those at 0-30% of Median Family Income;
- Job training programs for at-risk youth,
individuals with disabilities and former
- Programs to promote the acceptance of
diversity and minority cultures;
- Services for the mentally ill; and
- Community policing.
- Many would like to see spending decrease
on items such as prisons and unemployment,
which they believe are only necessary when
preventative measures such as education and
job training have failed.
- Some also wanted to remind the City that
“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This was
mentioned frequently in regards to the redevelopment
of the bus mall downtown.
comes from transformative efforts, not
ameliorative ‘band-aid’ programs. Part
of creating important economical and social
change will involve preventative programs
that do not have immediate results, but
will benefit all Portlanders.”
on secure and stable funding and service
provision for education, antipoverty services,
community centers in impoverished areas
and drug and alcohol treatment. These
and other services that are future oriented
and will prevent larger problems and costs
in the future.”
should be geared towards “fixing the basics
- Frustration is expressed over spending
on new projects and development when existing
systems need maintenance and improvement.
- Spend first and foremost to ensure that
the city is excelling in its fulfillment of
primary obligations, such as:
- Better police training to create an
excellent police force;
- Fixing the roads and bridges;
- Increasing access to parks and greenspace
in underserved neighborhoods;
- Making sure that all Portlanders have
a place to live that they can afford;
- Maintaining air and water quality.
- Large sums of public money should not be
spent on baseball stadiums, tourist attractions,
or other “optional” items until the previous
obligations are met.
of life begins with what we SEE everyday.
This addresses everything from air quality
to road maintenance.”
on the basics. Don’t try to be all things
to all people. Hit the basics out of the
ballpark. Fix the schools and work on
housing (low and middle income affordability).”
would like to see] a city that works.
A govt that focuses on the traditional
role of gov’t: roads, parks, police, fire,
development spending to better serve neglected
- Many call for a more equitable distribution
of urban renewal and redevelopment dollars
across the city.
- A significant amount of frustration is voiced
over the subsidization of residential improvements
downtown and in the Pearl. The general sense
is that because these are desirable, close-in
locations, they would develop even without
- Less desirable areas need City attention
if they hope to revitalize. These include:
- Southeast 82nd Avenue;
- Outer Southeast Portland (some requests
to pave the streets in Lents);
- East Portland, which is generally seen
- Saint Johns (needs better public transportation
- Some areas of inner Northeast and North
- Many ask why the City would subsidize projects
that cater primarily to higher-income residents
who can afford housing that’s already on the
market, when there are so many low and middle-income
families who cannot afford to live close-in.
- For more discussion, see Economy: Housing
and Economy: Poverty.
would like to see more public funds directed
toward incentives for community involvement,
smart building programs, intelligent urban
design for average Portlanders (enough
with the high-end developments, PDC!)”
not always about economic development.
Please – reduce public giveaways to developers
–create more affordable housing for low-income
and foremost you must provide services
and support for the challenged neighborhoods
of Portland. If you only provide funds
to the wealthy (waterfront and Pearl)
and do not address the livability of the
entire city, we will all lose…”
end to the everlasting increase in development
and funneling of our tax dollars to special
interests…surely redevelopment of blighted
areas into new low-income housing should
have preference. After all, close-in neighborhoods,
if they’re livable, are desirable on their
own and don’t need subsidies.”