Gimme, gimme, gimme the wonky tonk blues
A reader who really keeps up with the shenanigans at Portland City Hall sent me an e-mail message the other day, pointing me to this chubby document (pdf) -- an official analysis of the city's current budget situation in light of the "surplus" they're anticipating over the originally approved budget for the year. The paper is dated last Monday, and there's an agenda item on this coming Wednesday's City Council agenda that reads: "Adopt the FY 2006-07 fall major supplemental budget in the amount of $10,926,075 and make budget amendments in three funds (Ordinance introduced by Mayor Potter)." Apparently the two are related, but you have to do a fair amount of clicking on the city's website to navigate between them both. Would it kill the city to put links to the underlying documents right in the agenda? Maybe MetroFi and Microsoft could help...
Anyway, our correspondent skimmed through the whole 170 pages, and points up a couple of eye-openers:
On page 22, the appropriation for the Floating Twinkies (PHART) [rim shot] is increased by $9.1 million. It says it does not increase the total cost of the project -- presumably this is the deal from earlier in the year. Anyway, that might appear to take most of the total of $10.9 million in extra money being allocated by the recommendations of the Office of Finance & Management, except at the bottom of page 42 it says the money is coming out of the LID fund and be "offset by an increase in LID Note Sale revenues." Who knows what's really going behind the smoke and mirrors?
Page 46 has some interesting stuff. Remember when Fireman Randy recently seized control of water billing, putting it back under his water bureau, and taking it away from the revenue bureau? Apparently that will cost the city an extra $240,000 a year due to not being able to share support staff and a supervisor. And check out page 47 -- the revenue bureau took out a lease on more space for the billing personnel, to 2011, leaving them holding the tab for $103,000 for six months until June 2007, and no idea what they're going to do with the extra space through 2011. Oops.
On page 52, we're about to spend $83,000 for the Bureau of Planning to move from the 3rd floor of the 1900 SW 4th building to the 7th floor. This includes $20,000 for temporary staff to archive a backlog of files before the move. I'd pay more to move them to Boise.
And on page 129, the usually bland report steps a little out of character to speak plain English: "Employee satisfaction within the Parks Bureau continues to decline dramatically. Last year's decline was attributed to a major reorganization that took place, but it is disconcerting that this trend is continuing." Indeed, the parks bureau has turned "disconcerting" into an art form.
But hey! Why read a snarky little summary here, when there are 170 pages just waiting to fill you with reading pleasure? As they say, read the whole thing. I dare you to try. Even if you don't make it all the way through, let us know what you noticed before your head hit the keyboard.
UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.: LocalNewsDaily has picked up on the water billing story. Some days I think I should send the local media an invoice for freelance assignment editor work.