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Monday, June 2, 2008

What's up with the PDC budget?

We got this notice this morning:

The Portland Development Commission Budget Committee will hold a special meeting at the Portland City Council Chambers in City Hall on Wednesday, June 4, 2008, at 10:30 a.m. The special meeting is held pursuant to ORS 192.640(3), which allows the PDC Budget Committee to hold a special meeting with 24-hour public notice. The purpose of the meeting is to consider further, and possibly act upon, the proposed PDC Budget....
Nothing says "nonemergency" like an annual budget, but obviously there's something unusual going on with this one. Perhaps some observer in the mainstream media or blogosphere will enlighten us.

Comments (14)

While the statute they cite may apply to the current fiscal year budget, it clearly DOES NOT APPLY to the preparation of NEXT YEAR's budget. We're not even in the next fiscal year yet - so there can be no "emergency" is defined elsewhere in the ORS.

Next years budget is governed by ORS 294 Local Budget Law, and they are required to give a lot more than 24 hours notice. I think it's a week or 10 days.

Somebody should alert the Multnomah TSCC about this violation of the law.

Here's the statute:
294.406 Budget committee hearings; approval of budget document. (1) The budget committee shall approve the budget document as submitted by the budget officer or the budget document as revised and prepared by the budget committee. The budget document as approved by the budget committee shall specify the ad valorem property tax amount or rate for all funds.

(2) In addition to the meetings held under ORS 294.401 (1), the budget committee may meet from time to time at its discretion. All meetings of the budget committee shall be open to the public. Except for a meeting of the budget committee held under ORS 294.401 (1), prior notice of each meeting of the budget committee shall be given at the same time as is required for notice of meetings of the governing body of the municipal corporation and may be given in the same manner as notice of meetings of the governing body or by any one or more of the methods described in ORS 294.311 (34).

(3) The budget committee may demand and receive from any officer, employee or department of the municipal corporation any information the committee requires for the revision and preparation of the budget document. The budget committee may compel the attendance of any such officer or employee at its meetings. [1963 c.576 §20; 1965 c.451 §6; 1997 c.308 §14; 1997 c.541 §336a; 1999 c.632 §7; 2001 c.104 §103; 2001 c.135 §13]

Just double-checked the pdc website to make sure there wasn't some misunderstanding. No misunderstanding, they are attempting to hold a budget committee meeting (as regulated by ORS 294) as an "emergency meeting" under ORS 192. ORS 192 does not pertain to budget committee meetings. This is a clear violation of the law! But, I am not surprised.

Oh - by the way, this violation could leave them in jeopardy of a viable legal challenge to ALL of their budgeted expenditures in next fiscal year. In other words, you don't have the legal authority to spend money unless you comply with the proper legal form for securing that authority.

Mr. Ed is correct. No emergency.

But that does not stop them from 'declaring' it to be an emergency. And many times their legal counsel will say that it "very well might be" an emergency. And they never get caught, because nobody ever questions them. When somebody actually does question them, they get the legal mumbo-jumbo that they "cleared it with legal counsel" so buzz off... which they promptly do buzz off.

Unless, of course, you submit a complaint with the Ethics Commission (Chair, Judy Stiegler). Then they will take you seriously. But only then. How many bother to actually file a complaint? Very, very few.

I know. I have been an elected official that in that role. Public meeting laws are often ignored, both intentionally and unknowingly.

You're right about receiving the "legal mumbo-jumbo" when PDC is questioned. The North Macadam URAC staff was questioned about the issue of conflict of interest of committee members on votes concerning budget consequences. Some stakeholder members who declared a conflict of interest still voted on issues of budget consequences that they directly benefited them. PDC brought in attorneys after strong objections were made privately after public concern was expressed. A follow up meeting was made with two staff members beginning with Cheryl Twete who has since left PDC. The next URAC meeting had "mumbo-jumbo" attorney advice from the PDC attorney with unclear direction. Case closed. It continues.

The PDC is in a mad scramble to fund,,,,, well,, a lot of things they have no money for. And many of the things they need money for are requirements they must complete because they are legally obligated to do so.
The PDC has Development Agreemnets they cannot follow through on. It's going to get ugly.

OHSU is in the same situation making some of their mutual development agreements
worthless with other players, condo buyers and business owners all lawyering up.

Methinks a Vallejo, CA scenario is afoot! What happens when an urban renewal district files for bankruptcy?? Oh no, some developers may be left holding the bag! Fie, fie!

Frank: Methinks a Vallejo, CA scenario is afoot! What happens when an urban renewal district files for bankruptcy?? Oh no, some developers may be left holding the bag! Fie, fie!
JK: I have asked this question a number of times and got conflicting answers. It is conceivable that some obscure rule somewhere puts the city on the hook.

That said, the timing is about right for a big blowup – just after the election.


Jim, that's usually how it happens. Especially at the city and state level, bad news of that sort gets hidden until after the election, usually so the vermin who instigated the problem can cluck their tongues about how "we need to fix this, and now" with taxpayer funds. Barring a recall election, dropping a turd like this right after a major election just means that everyone will have forgotten, and the officials sufficiently rewarded, by the time they have to run for office again. Sorry, but I've seen this in action elsewhere.

A "special meeting" is different from an "emergency meeting." The Budget Committee can hold a special meeting without having an actual emergency, unless something in PDC's own rules prohibits it. Here's the section of state law.

ORS 192.640(3) No special meeting shall be held without at least 24 hours’ notice to the members of the governing body, the news media which have requested notice and the general public. In case of an actual emergency, a meeting may be held upon such notice as is appropriate to the circumstances, but the minutes for such a meeting shall describe the emergency justifying less than 24 hours’ notice. [1973 c.172 §4; 1979 c.644 §3; 1981 c.182 §1]

Isaac - I think ORS 192 does not apply to budget committee meetings, which are governed by ORS 294. There is a provision there for special meetings, but they require more than 24 hours notice.

The special meeting may be searching for answers on how to avoid bankruptcy in SoWhat. As posted before with over $390 Million in future projects unfunded but committed, and with SoWhat TIF dollars receding or staying flat, there is a major problem developing for PDC, CoP, and us taxpayers. It is getting interesting, and scary.

So Jack:
What happened at the PDC/City Council "Emergency Meeting"?, Where's the followup?
Michael Whitmore,
KNA, Land Use Chair

The "emergency meeting" was to approve the budget for next year. The only reason it was an "emergency" was to try and get around the meeting notice rules that are part of the laws regulating government budget process in oregon.

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