A Message from Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury
Four months ago, when we thought we were putting the final pieces of the FY 2021 budget together, I could never have imagined the current state of affairs halfway through 2020.
Since that time, our country and our community have been jarred by a pandemic and the growing chorus of calls for justice. Many people are outraged — and rightfully so — at the ways oppression and white supremacy continue to strip opportunity, stability and even life from Black, Indigenous and other people of color. People have lost their jobs and families fear losing their homes. And without a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, most people are worried that they or someone in their family might get sick.
And yet this is a moment that I believe calls me, my colleagues and Multnomah County to a higher level of leadership, engagement, justice and accountability. Now is an opportunity to lean fully into the work that needs to be done.
This $2.06 billion budget, adopted by the Board of Commissioners on June 23, maintains Multnomah County’s core safety net services, tackles urgent needs to combat COVID-19, advances equity and accelerates reforms to the criminal legal system. I am inspired by the hope that, in solidarity and in collaboration, we can take giant leaps forward.
The budget is our strongest policy document, translating our priorities and values into a roadmap for being the kind of local government Multnomah County pledges to be. And though this year’s budget process was filled with unprecedented challenges, I believe that this budget is capable of meeting the needs of our community members while also tending to the financial health of this organization.
In this budget:
We managed to close our structural deficit in part with a long-overdue update to our Business Income Tax.
We avoided deep reductions in staffing by forgoing cost of living adjustments among our non-represented employees and freezing the pay of managers.
We maintained core safety net services and increased investments in culturally specific services that close gaps in our community and address systemic injustices, putting our dollars in the hands of community-based organizations who have the trust, lived experience and relationships to reach people that traditional government approaches cannot. We are making a new $1 million investment in culturally specific services within our adult homeless services system and an additional $250,000 a year to create new homeless services for the trans and non-binary community.
We invested $90 million in local, state and federal funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to do so in a way that prioritizes the needs of those who are most vulnerable to severe illness and death. This includes investing in our public health response, housing stability, support for people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, wraparound services, and increased communication and outreach.
We upheld our commitment to workforce equity. By ensuring that the County has the resources and capacity to continue the work outlined in our Workforce Equity Strategic Plan, we can transform the way we approach and implement our recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, retention and culture-building.
We are continuing our work to reduce our reliance on jails, dismantle racial and ethnic disparities, and invest in community-centered models of safety and wellness. This budget reduces jail capacity, as well as capacity in the misdemeanor and pretrial units in the District Attorney’s Office, and permanently suspends parole and probation fees...