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Council formally adopts new budget

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The City Council has unanimously adopted the $3.68 billion budget that takes effect on July 1.

No one testified for or against the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget at Thursday's hearing.

Mayor Charlie Hales said the budget reflects a back-to-basics approach to spending that is appreciated by most Portlanders.

The budget includes $485 million in General Fund dollars, the revenue source over which the council has the most discretion. That is a $49 million increase over the current budget, with most of the growth coming from increased property taxes and business license fee collections related to the economic recovery.

Much of the increase — approximately $20 million — is dedicated to transportation-related projects, including increased road maintenance and safety projects, especially in East Portland. Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick said that was the greatest General Fund increase for transportation projects in 30 years.

The budget also includes $2 million to reduce user fees and increase youth attendance at community centers operated by Portland Parks & Recreation. Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz said the spending proposed by Hales was a good alternative to hiring more police officers to combat rising gang violence. Hales said the program had started early and already resulted in more young people attending the Matt Dishman Community Center in Northeast Portland.

The adopted budget will increase combined water, sewer and stormwater management rates 4.7 percent.

The council will later discuss pay differences between full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, and raising the minimum wage of all city employees to $15 an hour, Fritz said.

For previous coverage, visit www.pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/261989-134313-flush-with-cash-portland-oks-city-budget-with-little-debate.