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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 19, 2007 5:39 PM. The previous post in this blog was 1.5M. The next post in this blog is Special advisory. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We're not as stupid as they think

You have to love Portland city government. The people who run it can lie right to your face and never break a smile. Like all the self-back-patting they do about what a wonderful financial condition the city is in. "The bond rating agencies love us now more than ever... We win prizes for our budget presentations... We've got our pension liability problems on the run... Everything's great financially."

A few months later, they hit us with this.

Hey, City Hall -- were you lying to us then, or are you lying to us now?

Comments (26)

Can you say "deferred maintenance"?

I knew you could.

While they're giving away the store to the developers, they conveniently forget that they've got things like streets, buildings, parks and other capital structures that need regular updating in order to function appropriately. Of course, the longer you put it off, the more it costs. We've been putting it off for a long time.

So...Now Sam the Tram is creating a crisis of our streets in order to get Portlanders to pass a new tax...of some kind...a gas tax, mebbe? He wants to include us all in a conversation over how we can fund all these necessary repairs.

What do you wanna bet that Parks is going to have a maintenance crisis and they'll need to develop some innovative alternatives for funding...like, say...franchising McDonald's in each and every park...or Starbucks.

Were they lying then? Probably.

Are they lying now? Probably. The trick is figuring out about what.

So...The 'windfall' has been spent, huh? Can I ask on what? If I do, will I get a straight answer?

Damn...You know what? That fifteen million bucks we're providing to give the folks on Pill Hill a thrill sure would come in handy right about now.

Lets see. Portland's got a tram, bad roads and apparently from the "BIG OH!" this morning can't catch rapist.

Such a deal.

M.W.

I love the headline: "Portland's Transportation System in Trouble."

You could add:

Portland's School System in Trouble

Portland's Police Bureau in Trouble

Portland's Pension System in BIG Trouble

But hey -- go by streetcar!

Hmmm...lessee...

Funding sources...

Since OHSU has more than $45 million to blow on a tram *rimshot* toy, why don't we just tell them that resurfacing of the public streets to their facilities will cost four times what we originally thought, and charge them for it? And, providing deicing and gravel during inclement weather? Charge them for it, and make sure that they know that costs have gone up, too. Four times.

While we're talking about tram land, I'd like everybody driving on Terwilliger to take note of the crappy looking park land where Campus Drive intersects. Yes, that space with all the dead trees right under the tram line? Well, that's Portland Park land, part of the Terwilliger Parkway. OHSU cleared it of all obstructions (meaning mature trees, including several old Doug firs, to allow all the yokels to be able to see their wonderous Edifice Complex when they built the Casey Eye Clinic (that's the drive-through building) "thinking it was their land". Well...oops. They weren't supposed to do that. They just wanted everybody to be able to admire their porkbarrel projects and other follies. It took years just to get them to replant it and now they've allowed two-thirds of the plantings to die. It's almost as if they didn't want the trees....I can't imagine why they wouldn't want trees. It's probably that deferred maintenance thing again.

The streets go to hell. The parks go to hell. But, hey, OHSU has a tram! Let me tell you, you can't see the potholes from the tram. *cymbal crash*

But as Tram Sam explains, the Gas Tax he is proposing is a Gallon Tax, not a Price Tax.

Perhaps when we buy ten gallons Sam will have us leave one gallon behind as a tax payment.

Yes, in Sam's Portland that is possible.

I'd like to say I'm amazed we elected a guy like Sam, but I'm really not. I think he's my least favorite of the five.

Let's see ...

Sam the Tram says we need $263 million over 10 years (Oregonian, 6/18/07).

City of Portland has a $75 million budget surplus over the next 5 years (Oregonian, 4/18/07).

If the following five years look the same, we've solved almost 60% of the problem without lifting a finger or raising a tax.

Now, we just got to keep those greedy doulas off of our road money ...

I want to believe that you're interested in responsible public discourse, but posts like this make me wonder.

Budget award presentations are based on fairly presented budgets that are accessible to the public. They may fairly present a really crappy financial outlook, but they're not hiding anything.

Rating agencies care about a whole different set of issues. Typically they're most interested in the financial health of the parts of the City that will be issuing bonded debt - like utilities and the general fund.

You have to understand that in public accounting Funds are legally separate entities. The transportation fund can be in a death spiral, but that doesn't affect the water fund or the general fund, etc. They are separate and you can't lump all of these different activities and have it make any sense.

You also need to understand that every city and county in the state (and most across the country) are in the same situation on transportation funding and infrastructure. Our infrastructure is deteriorating and we don't have the money to fix. It is hardly unique to Portland.

But if you'd like to crap on them for not being smarter than everyone else in the country, go ahead.

Sam talks about the $9M yearly deferred maintenance bill not being met in his blog. His solution is to tax in a variety of ways-throw a dart and see what we may accept.

How about Sam setting priorities and not keep taxing us out of congestion?

Start with the $3.5M that Sam took out of the PDOT budget for the over budget first extension of the trolley to OHSU Sport Club even before it was built, or anything else in SoWhat.

Add the additional $3M taken out of the PDOT budget for the next trolley addition from the Club to SW Lowell; and again spending this money before the completion of any buildings in SoWhat to provide ridership.

Add in the 98% of the parking meter revenue in portions equal to the trolley ridership ratio compared to our street system that is stolen from this pie and given to trolleys-approximately $19M.

Just these three examples would equal $25.5MILLION-almost three times than the $9M Sam says we need to keep up. That is setting priorities. I won't even add in the additional potential trolley savings from Sam's Burnside Couplet project that is taking dollars from several tax sources and not one dime from the future users of the trolley.

Then to really help with the bigger ticket transportation items we can begin to examine the federal and state dollars that are earmarked for the metro transportation needs and pull out many millions that are being siphoned off for questionable transportation solutions.

Then add in the additional hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation being diverted to light rail beyond the portion of only 3% ridership versus 97% for roads, you have a large sum to work with in tackling Sam's problem. Again, setting priorities, and without raising taxes.

And where was Sam when he could have lobbied hard for reasonable portion of Portland's $38M budget surplus this year?

All this doesn't have to be in the context of mass transit opposing roads, but of setting a more equal balance. I agree that we need to have a public transportation system, but things are not even close to being balanced. We need to slowly build a mass transit system that isn't only downtown oriented, but has more connecting bus service, and doesn't hurt the economy of the region with road collapse.


You also need to understand that every city and county in the state (and most across the country) are in the same situation on transportation funding and infrastructure.

How trite. Tax money is tax money. Suddenly we're desperate for it, but at the same time we've got lots. It doesn't add up.

I want to believe that you're interested in responsible public discourse, but posts like this make me wonder.

Guess you didn't read the comments policy. We don't do reviews of this site here. That was the last review you get to post. I'll waste time arguing about specific issues (wrongheaded though you are), but if you want to tell me how to run my site, go blow it somewhere else.

Here's a few cost saving ideas:

Don't continue to lease or build office buildings and jails that are empty.

No more public/private partnerships.

No more foreign travel.

Sell the fleet of city owned vanity cars (Prius, Smart, Segways)...Go by Flexcar! Or better yet, just reimburse mileage if city employees need to use their own.

No more couplets (just pave the streets).

No more trolleys, trams, or esplanades.

No more public art.

No more public skateparks.

No more eco-roofs.

No more visioning.

No more lawsuits against PGE, Comcast, etc.

No more giving the public employees a raise every time they ask for one.

Sell the surplus real estate.

Sorry, that's all much too real.

Mr. Tee writes: "Sell the fleet of city owned vanity cars (Prius, Smart, Segways)...Go by Flexcar! Or better yet, just reimburse mileage if city employees need to use their own."

How about the use Trimet and the trolley to get around? Afterall we pay good money for those things. Let 'em use 'em

MW

People in city hall may not have read “The Prince”, but they know Barnum’s philosophy through and through.

Pages of the the City's document beginning at page 64 show we are losing ground on the City Infrastructure at an alarming rate. If the city were truly sustainable it would be budgeting to refurbish the assets and keep them "fixed up" not building a lot of new things that come no where near paying for themselves in revenue.


http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=144857


CAPITAL ASSETS AND DEBT ADMINISTRATION
A. Capital assets
The City's investment in capital assets for its governmental and business-type activities as of June
30, 2006, amounts to $5,061,880,671 (net of accumulated depreciation). This investment in capital
assets includes land, construction in progress, buildings, improvements to land, equipment,
infrastructure, and capitalized leases. The total increase in the City's investment in capital assets for
the current fiscal year was $151,522,732 or 3 percent (a 0.9 percent decrease for governmental
activities and a 6.8 percent increase for business-type activities).
Major capital asset events during the current fiscal year included the following:
• Governmental construction in progress grew by 36.4 percent or $30,868,766 and land increased
by 19.6 percent or $19,522,340, but this and other increases were overshadowed by the
decrease of $85,148,571, or 4.3 percent in infrastructure. The increase in governmental
construction in progress was primarily due to on-going work on the Marquam Hill Tram. The
governmental land increase was primarily Parks and Recreation's acceptance of several
donations totaling over $14.1 million. The decrease in governmental infrastructure was due to
Transportation depreciation expense in excess of new construction.

can be found here

http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=144223

You have to understand that in public accounting Funds are legally separate entities...They are separate and you can't lump all of these different activities and have it make any sense.

Funds aren't created by God. They are created by us, and, in fact, the Transportation Fund wasn't born of an immaculate conception but was created --in better times-- to build a fence around transportation revenues (nyah, nyah...can't touch our money).

"Funds" have a value, certainly, but from a citizen perspective...let's not use Fund budgeting to escape accountability.

This is just another example of why Portland needs a new mayor who can lead, not just wave in parades.

Remember, the waste of taxpayers' dollars starts at the top, and Sam Adams has been telling the idiot mayor Potter about the transportation problems for 2 years, but still many millions are spent on goofy projects like visioning, 27 committees that will produce reports that no one will read, a charter review scam, and unbelievably Potter's $100,000+ insulting program to teach only Black people how to be better parents. Hey, where's the accounting on the $250,000 in "grants" to various questionable individuals?

To fix the water, sewer and pothole problems in Portland, we need to first get rid of the city's "unproductive" and utterly useless mayor Potter. The road repairs funding priorities will quickly follow.

My bet is a luxury vehicle tax.

and once again I say: There outta be a revolution. They take our money and don't prioritize. Instead, they spend our money on ego projects. Mama mia, there is no common sense in PDX City Hall.

Let's NOT FORGET the Portland Street Car (Are you listening Chris Smith?) that virtually noone pays fares on. Shall we face it - it DOES NOT OPERATE FOR FREE. Could someone at CofP or TriMet please explain why we have public transit where there is little effort made to collect fares of any kind. As one of those pesky small business owners who pays hundreds of dollars every year for the "priviledge" of having public transit( even though most of my clients NEVER use it); both myself and many other business owners would appreciate some FACTUAL responses.

"Funds aren't created by God. They are created by us, and, in fact, the Transportation Fund wasn't born of an immaculate conception but was created --in better times-- to build a fence around transportation revenues (nyah, nyah...can't touch our money).

"Funds" have a value, certainly, but from a citizen perspective...let's not use Fund budgeting to escape accountability. "

Frank. Here, here.

Greg C

Don't tax you. Don't tax me. Tax the fellow behind that tree.

PDC could help the cause by acknowledging the city's road infrastructure deficiencies as part of PDC's responsibility and mission. In fact, it could easily be made so because PDC's mission statement includes the economic necessity of adequate movement of goods, people and services.

Since Sam and the rest of city council now control PDC's budget, they could easily require the funding for roads. As they have recently done with designating all URA districts to spend 30% on affordable housing, Sam and Sten could lobby for a minumum of URA budgets to be 20%, and maybe decrease affordable housing to 20% to help set priorities to reality. We certainly haven't been creating affordable housing in the Pearl and SoWhat.

Also consider that most developers outside of URA's pay for a substantial portion of transportation requirements based on city required transportation studies; why not in URA's?

In the recent URAC discussions when affordable housing advocates requested up to 40% URA budgets to affordable housing, there were those that made comments that transportation infrastructure should be added to the mix. No response from PDC. In fact Matt Brown representing PDOT (now Homer) at PDC URACs said "we'll just hope that we achieve 40% mass transit use in SoWhat, and even then their will be transportation failures, and we'll just deal with that latter, and anyway its another way to get people out of their cars, and there won't be much service vehicle and truck traffic serving the 10,000 bio-tech jobs and 2-3 thousand new condo residents". Well, Matt and PDOT are wrong already and we haven't even reached 10% buildout.

In almost all of Portland's URAs the transportation consequences have been put onto the backs of the general taxpayers, even regionally, state, and federally. The developers in the URA's have essentially escaped the transportation conseqences of their projects' increased densities. Homer and Edlen have done it in the Pearl, now SoWhat. Same thing is happening in Wilsonville's Dammish URA-the taxpayers are paying for the transportation aftermath.

To be fair, this has got to stop. And this is a matter of setting priorities, and Sam could easily forget increasing taxes and honor his promise not to as he said to the press and at electioneering townhalls.

The PDC, PDOT and Sam Adams are corrupted.

One only need this one example.

As the city and OHSU were "negotiating" shares of the rising cost of the Tram some funny things started happening.

All of a sudden OHSU started getting big payments in cash.
Millions came right out of Sam's PDOT general fund budget.
But it had to be laundered.

To do so, the city took $3.5 million in SoWa borrowed Urban Renewal TIF money out of SoWa street funding and gave it to OHSU. Said it was for some 100 future parking spaces in a future building. A building not guaranteed to be built.

Then PDOT took $3.5 million from their general fund budget and put it into the SoWa street funding whihc is supposed to be funded by Urban Renewal.

That's just one example of the ease at which Sam et al shift "public accounting Funds are legally separate entities".

During the rise of the Tram cost OHSU found some 18 million in line item payments in borrowed city cash today while OHSU pays their Tram share through an LID over decades.

Sam is not an honest person.

You are correct, he is not. But he gives great TIF.

Was that below the belt, or sowhat?

He abuses and steals TIF


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At this date last year: 234
Total run in 2013: 257
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In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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