May 5: My FY 2023 Executive Budget: Built for transition and transformation

Dear friends and neighbors,

Each year, the Chair’s Executive Budget offers our organization and our community a roadmap to meeting the moment, whether in times of scarcity or prosperity, in the middle of a crisis or during a period of recovery. It has to be clear-eyed about our challenges, while setting a path to lean fully into our opportunities, our responsibilities and our capabilities as Multnomah County.

Throughout my 13 years serving Multnomah County, first as County commissioner and then as Chair, our community has experienced its share of peaks and valleys: deep recessions, economic booms, and two years ago, a world-shaking pandemic.

Ever since COVID-19 touched our community, I’ve been in awe at how Multnomah County has raced to meet the needs of our neighbors experiencing the harms from pre-existing inequities and injustices that were exposed, deepened and widened, by the pandemic. 

We’ve continued to build up our public health response to reach, educate and vaccinate our residents. With Supportive Housing Services measure funding, we’ve grown our shelter system and accelerated our work of getting people into homes of their own. We’ve met the needs of families and children destabilized by the pandemic with wraparound services and support through school sites. And with the help of our network of community partners, we’ve distributed rent assistance and worked to prevent and interrupt violence.

All of which brings me to today, and to the work ahead of us.

This morning, I released the FY 2023 Executive Budget — my eighth and final one as Chair. This proposed budget preserves the tools that we need to continue meeting our current needs as we transition beyond the pandemic. And more than any budget we have worked on before, this Executive Budget moves us closer to being a community that is stronger, more resilient and more equitable for everyone.

The Executive Budget maintains the core safety net services that have been critical to the stability and well-being of our community, and strengthens the services that our communities have told us they want to see endure beyond the pandemic. It expands effective strategies to meet areas of growing need, and carries forward many of the newfound lessons and effective practices that we gained through our COVID response.

But it’s also designed to look and plan beyond the needs immediately in front of us in order to make greater strides toward our vision of community transformation. The investments I’ve made in the Executive Budget leverage our resources to help move and empower the people we serve from a space of crisis and survival, to a place of healing, opportunity and thriving.

Our ambitious goal to use this $3.3 billion budget to stabilize our services while also making critical new investments is possible in part because we are entering the new fiscal year with the kind of financial flexibility that we haven’t seen in years. That’s thanks to a recovering economy and collections from the Business Income Tax set us up to grow our revenues for the next five years. 

There’s still a lot of work to do before the Board of County Commissioners votes to adopt a final budget on Thursday, June 16. Over the next several weeks, we’ll receive the latest financial forecasts from the Budget Office, hear budget presentations from each County department and hold worksessions.

I also want to invite you, the members of our community, into the participatory budget process. We want you to use your voice to tell us what issues you care about and what you’d like to see included in the final budget. 

Multnomah County will host three virtual public hearings on May 18, May 25 and June 1. Each will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Check those links soon for information on how to sign-up for public testimony or submit written comments, and keep an eye on Multnomah County social media. You can also learn about other ways to participate in the budget process here.

In preparation, you can review my proposed executive budget or read the County’s summary. I hope that you will be able to join the conversation.

I am proud that this particular Executive Budget, built at this particular moment in our community’s history, is the final one that I am proposing as Chair. This budget reflects the challenges that we continue to face, but it also reveals how Multnomah County will help our community rise above them.

Please stay safe and stay healthy,

Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Chair