April 13, 2004
by Matthew J.N. Roehr, CFA
For the 2004-05 city budget, Portland Mayor Vera Katz proposes hiring 20 police officers—part of a plan to fill 54 vacant positions at the Police Bureau. To pay for this, she allocates a mere $1 million out of the $370 million general-fund. Ahead of the police is $2.35 million to recruit and retain businesses in Portland, $11 million for affordable housing, and $4.5 million to add light-rail tracks to the failed downtown transit mall.
If Portland must fill the 54 vacant Police positions in order to enforce the rule of law, we suggest Mayor Katz forget about recruiting businesses, subsidizing housing and feeding the insatiable light-rail budget—a total of nearly $18 million—and provide the necessary funding to the Police Bureau.
While Mayor Katz is at it, we also suggest she come clean with taxpayers and include in the general-fund budget the total cost—including pension accruals—for filling just 20 open police positions. The total cost is not $1 million a year, but approximately $1.3 million based on the City's own analysis of the funding crisis at the Fire and Police Disability and Retirement system in 2000. The approximate discounted present value of adding 20 officers is near $26 million.Mayor Katz should also look at privatizing PGE Park, Portland International Raceway and the city-owned golf courses—all endeavors the city has no business running—to fund the Police Bureau.