Mayor Potter, said in his recent opinion piece, thatÂ "diverting [city] funds to schoolsÂ will have an immediate impact on programs the community deeply values — for instance, swimming pools, backlogged street paving, jails and parks maintenance. Many will be scaled back or stopped altogether."
The Mayor must have just recently discovered this dynamic.Â Otherwise he may have voted against theÂ $10 million property tax exemption (abatement) for the planned Alexan,Â SoWa apartment tower. AnÂ exemption which failed on a 3 to 2 vote by the council but would have provided nothing in return had it passed.Â A closer look at other recent decisions and the urban renewal funds would reveal millions in budget dollars being diverted for questionable purposes.
His concern for schools and other programs which the community deeply values may have been more front and centerÂ had he realized that diverting city fundsÂ may have adverse effects.
This may be good news for theÂ city should the MayorÂ apply his new observation to current and planned projects which divert massive amounts of city funds.
Whether it be the Tram, the $1/2 billion forÂ SoWa development, the $557 million for a new transit mall and light rail, or the convention center hotel, City management mustÂ come to grips with the size and impacts of diverting city funds.
A good start would be to get the Portland Development Commission to start obeying the State law which requires yearly reports on the impacts of diverting city funds. Exactly what needs to be known.Â ORS 457.460Â Â http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/457.html
In addition to other means of diverting city funds, Urban Renewal now diverts some $65 millionÂ in city funds away from programs the community deeply values.
It is reassuring, however late in coming, that Portland Mayor PotterÂ may beÂ providing the leadershipÂ necessary to begin anew an effort toÂ protect those values and the city funds they require.Â Â Â
As an added bonus the Mayor, and the city,Â may pick up desperately needed support for solving the school funding debate.Â
Steve SchoppÂ Â Â