The Chair's Proposed Budget will be presented to and approved by the Board of County Commissioners, acting as the budget committee, on April 22, 2021. These presentations do not represent the final FY 2022 Adopted Budget, scheduled to be adopted on June 3, 2021.
A Message from Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury
April 22, 2021
The 2022 Multnomah County Executive Budget was created in the continuing wake of the most tumultuous and trying years that the County, and our community, has ever faced. The challenges that we confronted together have never been more acute than they are right now — exacerbated and deepened by a public health emergency.
However, as I reflect on how much the world has changed since I released last year’s Executive Budget, I am awestruck by the way that Multnomah County employees, our programs and partners have stepped up to tackle challenges that have been as urgent as they were daunting. Over the last year, Multnomah County has led our region’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, earnestly engaged in dismantling systemic racism and racial injustices, worked to ensure the health and safety of our unhoused neighbors, provided physical and behavioral health services, and even held three fair and secure elections.
And we did all of that while building and adopting new ways of working and delivering our services; responding to new and unforeseen needs emerging out of the pandemic; and continuing to listen to, and partner with, the community to an extent we hadn’t before in order to meet the growing needs of residents in effective and equitable ways.
Last year’s Executive Budget was created just as the County was beginning to understand the full extent of the pandemic, while staring down a $58 million General Fund deficit. Working with department leaders, we built a budget that prioritized the preservation of essential services to the fullest extent possible, while funding responses to new needs created by the crisis.
At the outset of this year’s executive budgeting process, we again anticipated that we would not have enough money to continue our core services and safety net programs. The County's most recent economic forecast showed a narrowing of our deficit, but still required $2.5 million in reductions to balance the General Fund budget. This did not, however, account for the nearly $120 million the County expended over the past year as part of our COVID-19 response.
Thankfully, the federal government recently passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). This legislation includes a direct allocation of funds to Multnomah County — $157.6 million to be spent by 2024 — as well as opportunities to access other specific programmatic resources to respond to the pandemic. The County’s initial allocation for FY 2022 is $78.8 million. These resources will greatly bolster our ability to respond to and recover from this public health emergency, address the impacts of COVID-19, and help offset reductions in revenue where feasible. A COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Act addendum is attached to the digital version of the Executive Budget message and lays out my priorities, values and investments.
The 2022 Executive Budget is built to address Multnomah County’s highest priorities in the wake of a pandemic that will continue to have significant, long-lasting implications for the health, safety and stability of our community.
It meets that goal in two ways. Our first, and most immediate, priority is to maintain the County’s public health infrastructure that provides a foundation for a healthier community for all of our residents. Public health has never been more important to keeping our community safe, and ensuring that our disease prevention strategies are kept intact will be critical to avoiding excess disease and death. Secondly, as we head into a year during which we know the need for County services will remain at an all-time high, this Executive Budget upholds and strengthens core services that our community members depend on.
But the events of the last year have also carried Multnomah County to a profoundly different place than where we were this time last year. After enduring a year of crises — and with a steadily increasing defense against the virus thanks to the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines — our community and our organization stand at a pivotal juncture. Our recovery can bring about the emergence of a stronger, more just and equitable community that doesn’t just reflect the wounds, but also the lessons and resilience, gathered from a painful season.
We have the opportunity to leverage the scope of, and our approach to, the County’s work into an inflection point, and I believe that now is the time to aggressively pursue solutions that can eliminate disparities in our community.
The Executive Budget provides a pathway beyond meeting our most immediate needs; it also lays the foundation for building up the kind of county that will serve our residents for decades to come.