Portland City Council approves $189M budget; police, fire jobs still in doubt
PORTLAND — City residents will not see an increase in property taxes in the next fiscal year, although parking at a meter or getting a marriage license will cost more.
There may also be fewer police officers and firefighters on the job, after the City Council on Monday passed a $189 million budget for fiscal year 2010. The council also approved the $91 million school budget.
The property tax rate will remain at $17.74 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Unless another arrangement is reached between the city and public safety unions, the budget includes layoffs at the Police and Fire departments. Both departments would lose six positions. The city has given the unions until July 1 to agree to a salary freeze for the year. Other city employee unions have already agreed to the freeze.
The budget includes increases in many city fees, including how much it costs for a season pass at Riverside Municipal Golf Course ($715 to $725), the cost of a cemetery plot ($710 to $850) and the price of a marriage license ($100 to $125).
One hour at a parking meter will cost $1, up from 75 cents.
The only fee increases that proved controversial among councilors – and the only budget issue that generated any discussion at all Monday night – was the cost of getting records from the Police Department.
Councilor Dan Skolnik proposed three amendments to the proposed increases for criminal and accident reports and 911 tape recordings. He said he was concerned that raising fees for such public documents would make it hard for people to access reports they have a right to see.
Skolnik proposed the city not apply a $10 increase for a copy of an accident report to people who were directly involved in the accident and who go to the Police Department to request the document.
He also proposed waiving fees for criminal reports for people who were directly involved in the incident if they come in to get the report.
Skolnik also proposed the city increase the fee for a 911 recording from $25 to $30 – not to the proposed $40.
Although the issue of public access was debated, councilors voted 5-4 against Skolnik's amendment, with Councilors Dory Waxman, Kevin Donoghue, Skolnik and Mayor Jill Duson in the minority.
About 20 minutes after voting on the issue, Councilor John Anton announced he'd changed his mind and wanted to revisit the fee increases.
Anton then proposed an amendment that would waive the fee for criminal reports if a person directly involved in the incident goes to the police station to request the report. He did not propose Skolnik's other two original amendments.
Anton's amendment passed 5-4. The budget appropriation resolve passed 9-0.