The budget-strapped City of Portland has implemented a hiring freeze, effective March 8,
and the only Portland employees excluded from the freeze are certain public safety officers.
But that exemption could create a problem for the city's general fund because the freeze won't apply fully to the one bureau that has exceeded its personnel budget the most this year, the Portland Police Bureau.
"[V]acancies cannot be filled without written authorization from the HR Director," according to a March 1 memo to city officials from Yvonne Deckard, human resources director. "This applies to all vacancies (whether permanent or temporary, including promotions, transfers, and returning retirees). Vacancies for front line police officers will be exempted."
The new hiring freeze is meant to generate personnel savings. And last month, financial analysts recommended a citywide hiring freeze that included the police bureau.
"In the General Fund, Police Bureau personnel spending appears to be the largest issue, and Police is the only bureau projected to overspend its entire budget," a Feb. 11 memo from financial planners to city commissioners says. "But we are seeing lower salary savings citywide and a higher overall trend. At this time, a worse-case projection shows the City General Fund spending as much as $4.1 million over its personnel services and compensation set-aside budgets combined. This level of over-expenditure would directly impact FY 2009-10 ending fund balance and reduce resources available for FY 2010-11."
The rest of City Council discussed this problem at a work session Feb. 16. (Video is here.
) And Mayor Sam Adams said then that he didn't want the freeze to affect police. "I don't think I can sign off on that," he said.
A spokesman for the mayor was not immediately available today for comment. Update at 2:30 pm:
Adams had this to say by email this afternoon, "I do not want to lose ground now that for the first time PPB is about staffed to authorized strength. The upside of being fulling staffed include the opportunity to provide required services with reduced overtime."