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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Magic Sam pulls another $7.3 million out of nowhere

This time, the Portland mayor's miraculous treasure find will go to the public schools. Even if this diversion of city funds is legal (and we wouldn't be at all sure of that), where does this guy find that kind of dough at the drop of a hat? It's always the mysterious "savings and efficiencies." Who is he kidding?

We'd like to see the public schools get the money they need, but this brand of shenanigans is outrageous. The finances of the City of Portland have become a bad game of three-card monte. Downright scary, is what it is.

Comments (28)

$7.3M / 50K ratepayers = $146 rate increase for the water bills.

Vote NO on any/every bond or tax measure. They have honeypots of money all over the place.

I concur, Steve.

Probably from Water and Sewer.

Portland has been bending over for this kind of shenanigans for years. Why is this any different? They even used the same tag line...
"It's for the..."

Let me guess, it can only be used for bike lanes and bioswales next to schools?

Attention, Sam, and the "major" mayoral candidates: The school system is NOT your responsibility. You do not have the power to keep teachers on the job. You cannot fix our school system.

If you really want to help the schools, there's a lot you can do to help the students. You can work harder to keep the streets safe and to reduce opportunities for kids to join gangs. You can create a better climate for business so the kids' parents can find work (or not get laid off), thus helping families to stay in their homes.

These things might be boring, but they're every bit as necessary as money for the schools.

I have a question why is it no one in Portland besides me ever calls for major league spending reform In portland public schools?pps has over 1,000 out of 5400 employees in the district with total compensation packages over 100,000 dollars a year.pps could very easily cut 10%to 20% of these people.why is it the city has money to bail out an incompetent school district who has no clue how to spend money properly but the city has no money to fix roads?pps don't need anymore money they need to reform their spending once and for all.there is no funding crisis in pps and never has been.I encourage all of you to look up pps general funds budget vs all funds budget numbers the last several heRs and you will see pps has receive a combined 100 to 130 million the last 5 school years and the total funds budget has increased Significantly every school year the last several years including the I-tax years too debunking the liberal media lies about school funding being down from 5 and 10 years ago.doonsebury never bothers to mention that either.

"why is it no one in Portland besides me ever calls for major league spending reform"

You think any politician wants to mess with the public employee unions and how they do things? Heck, they went on strike over 20 minutes of prep time and got every kid they could on the pickett line for TV exposure.

I concur since it seems we can layoff teachers and cut programs, but somehow need every last $100K/yr administrator.

Money for nothing, and the chicks are free.

Steve -

Coherence, logic and complete sentences are your friends. Focus.

First you tell us no politician wants to "mess with the public employee unions".

Next you tell us that the "$100K/yr administrator is the problem.

Ahhh, the administrators aren't in the PPS teachers union.

So what is it, the pols, the unions, the administrators?

The unfocused nature of your anger and dis satisfaction guarantees that your opposition to ? whatever ? will never be effective.

So typical of 90 - 95% of the voters in PDX.

So sad.

"Coherence, logic and complete sentences are your friends. Focus."

OK, Carole Smith says she needs to take $8M out of the budget. Apparently the only solution is cutting teachers. I mention admins as an option to cut since that would have less impact on the classroom benefits.

The previous poster asked why no one asks about spending. I think pubilc employee unions and their benefits are the trhird rail for any politician. The example of how much work they went thru over 20 min of prep time with the union is emblematic of expecting to make any change in spending habits and getting the union buy-in.

"So what is it, the pols, the unions, the administrators?"

Combo of all the above being ineffective in running the school system efficiently.

Come on, people! Adams isn't doing this for the schools or the children. He's doing this to keep the Portland image from getting bad press about the schools.

What about the Maintenance Bureau, when is downtown going to get rid of these Senior Managers that have run the place into the ground. They over spend, they cant balance a budget. Why do they have there crews working on unmaintained streets. If the other municilites forced them to resign, why in the world did they get hired here. Street systems lost there repavement money back in October. The new budget isnt til July 1st, common someone needs to get these two guys out before they do more damage. Maybe someone should call California Transportation and asked just why they forced him out. What about Clackamas County Water, I bet they both have interesting stories to tell. How can there field supervisors where 3/peice suits to work all the sudden, so they really dont do anything do they, but they still take over 80 thousand a year. Amazing.. Someone help Street systems

Does anyone know what kind of actual money the school system has in place?

Every government entity has a second set of books called the Comprehensive Financial Annual Reports (CAFRs).

The CAFR is all the money: total gross income, investment structure, and the selectively designated general purpose operating budget (which is the only item they ever mention when talking about money).

The CAFR can often be twice to three times the operating budget - so no wonder they can pull money out of nowhere.

I agree with the assessment that the City funds need to go to other areas. As an example, the street lights (on power poles) called cobras, were installed in the late 1970's and early '80's. They have a life expectancy of 20 to 30 years. There are around 45,000 of them in the City of Portland that need to be replaced real soon now. At about $700 each (for newer power saving technology units) that 7.5 million could start the replacement project and get them replaced in about 5 years time. But of course, the Citizens would not notice much, except that their street lights would continue to work. So it is not as sexy as giving it away to the schools. That is only one example. Repaving streets, and replacing traffic and information signs are others.

What Michelle said. They won't do it because it isn't shiny. It's interesting that the day after being visited by "marching Mayday" students at City Hall, Sam scores another financial miracle For The Children™.

PPS doesn't need our money; they need to ensure that a third of the students don't drop out.

Sam doesn't need to give them money, he needs to invest in safe streets and neighborhoods.

As an aside: comments on this site are usually interesting, enjoyable, and even insightful - but for some unknowable reason, many of the comments on this particular post are darned near incomprehensible.

Below is a link to a letter concerning the proposal for a new "Education Urban Renewal" area downtown that was sent by the Portland League of Women Voters.

The letter states that last year $28.9 million in taxes were diverted from Portland Public Schools for Urban Renewal projects statewide. Also includes these facts
Taxes were diverted away from basic services to Urban Renewal. The LWV details the loss of tax revenue:
Portland City Services: $34.4 million
Multnomah County Services: $24 million
Schools: $70 million statewide
(Portland Public Schools -­‐$28.9 million)

Supt. Carole Smith stated that the gap between current services and the anticipated budget for Portland Public Schools next year was $27.5 million. The City and County are also predicting major shortfalls.


Tim - PPS's CAFRs are available online here: http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/accounting/4515.htm

Mr. Grumpy:Come on, people! Adams isn't doing this for the schools or the children. He's doing this to keep the Portland image from getting bad press about the schools.

Have to keep on redoing, building and redoing, can't continue unless more are lured into our city and they won't be lured in if schools are getting bad press.

URA's folks, URA's. Sam is a cheerleader and fast tracker for more urban renewals and that as Anne has listed above is what takes money from schools.

Complete hypocrite, our Mayor, gives the store away for URA's and then to keep the schools, parents and teachers in line they get some too...is that so they won't put up a big fuss? Calling this last one an educational urban renewal is really hypocritical.

The $70 million diverted from state schools, have these people pushing these urban renewals no shame?

I am surprised there hasn't been more outrage towards the behavior of Portland elected officials from around the state, or has there been and we don't hear about it?

Isn't there a state law that only allows so much acreage to be within an URA? Could legislators change that law to decrease what could be put in an URA? Where are these politicians who are supposed to represent the people?

Clinamen, in OR statutes 457.420 URAs of a municipality is limited to 15% of total assessed value and/or 15% of total land area of the municipality. Portland many times are close to those maximums and occasionally CoP/PDC mention these constraints as they are pushing it. This happened in the formation of SoWhat.

On the assessed value angle that is easily "manipulated" by the assessor of a municipality since the State takes the municipalities word on it unless there is some formal inquiry. I've never heard of an inquiry. I wonder if League of Women Voters knows where Portland stands.

It would be interesting to know how close Portland is on these maximums in regard to the proposed Education URA. Might be a learning moment.

Thanks K2

Looks like they have around $1.33 Billion in cash and investments:

Deposits with financial institutions include bank demand deposits, deposits in the Local Government Investment Pool, time certificates of deposit, and savings account deposits, as authorized by Oregon
statutes. Cash, cash equivalents and investments on June 30, 2011 are comprised of the following:

Oregon Local Government Investment Pool $50,423

Cash in demand deposits 50,744

Petty cash 5

Total cash and cash equivalents 101,172

U.S Government agency securities 11,916

Corporate commercial paper 9,297

Corporate notes 6,944

Total investments 28,157

Cash and cash equivalents held by fiscal agents 4,135

Total cash, cash equivalents and investments $ 133,464

Do you suppose these new morphed names such as Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative and the Education Urban Renewal, might be a way of getting around already maximum acreage in URA's in our city? It would be interesting to find all this out before the fast tracking.

I saw a statement somewhere that 3rd grade reading levels predict local jail capacity demand a decade later. They definitely predict dropping out before HS graduation, in any case. The Black Panthers knew this! A primary goal in their program was to get every little kid fed and school-ready! How many years ago was that? It wasn't rocket science then, and it isn't rocket science now.

With year-by-year slashing of the "recreation" budgets that funded pre-school programs at community centers, after school programs at schools and summer park programs that help keep young kids on track, they've abandoned the legitimate city responsibilities that could really help. Make art, music, tumbling, pee-wee sports, swim, etc universally available for all Portland kids pre-K through 3rd grade, like they used to be, and you would make a huge dent in the problem, without straying from a valid and traditional Portland city government mission. All those things support school success. Even if all they do is get kids familiar with working in groups, they support school success. Simple taking turns and sharing in organized games fosters success. Learning to color and draw better fosters success. City of Portland is the actual officially responsible unit of government for those programs.

Token bags of cash skimmed from unrelated programs do not make up for the abandonment of those basic, legitimate missions. It is like the bad parent that flies in every couple of years, showers the kids with gifts and sweets for a week, then disappears again. "Just deal with it," indeed.

Where are Mildred Schwab and Charles Jordan when you need them? Who are these poseurs somebody put in their place?

With year-by-year slashing of the "recreation" budgets that funded pre-school programs at community centers, after school programs at schools and summer park programs that help keep young kids on track, they've abandoned the legitimate city responsibilities that could really help.

Instead our council pours money into unneeded projects. Fish should know better. I can't believe that he is planning to close community centers, restrooms, etc....well unfortunately, I can believe it after what I have witnessed.

If the tax dollars from the city are used for schools, how does that work under measure 50? The Shiloh decision told us that how property taxes are used (not collected) defines their category under M50. As such, it appears that these funds would apply to the educational funding cap and the schools would have to give up the money to the state school fund. Am I wrong here?

Thoughtful Goober M50 only applies to tax on real property. The City may well intend to use monies from one of its many other revenue streams. It's not at all clear yet which rock was hiding the money Sam found.

If you're interested in the budget of the CoP, or any other government or school district in Multnomah County for that matter, you really should should take a look at the annual report from my personal favorite government agency, the Multnomah County Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission. http://tsccmultco.com/financialinfo.html (Seriously, I love them. They do terrific work. I was very disappointed that Washington County managed to avoid the requirement to add a similar commission.)

A lot of talk about "sharing" the pain of the cuts by Carol Smith, but I know "non-reps" (no union, not upper echelon leaders) at the PPS HQ who make far less than $100k/year, haven't had a COLA in 3-4 years, haven't had a raise since they've worked there (some, 8 years), and now are being forced to take 10 unpaid "furlough" days. Their wages are less than they were when they started. Seems like sharing, but doesn't seem fair.

Also, who are the PPS flaks that only 2 years ago negotiated a pay raise with the teachers union? The cutting has been going on for nearly 20 years at PPS--didn't they see this coming? If not, why not? Malfeasance at best, incompetence at worst.

Finally, what about the non-salaried waste at PPS?

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