January 13th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Clowns at City Hall Wear Red Noses Today

City Hall Rose Festival Teddy Bear

No, it's not what you think. This morning, to celebrate making the Rose Festival "the official festival of the City of Portland," Royal Rosarians, Grant High School's Rose Festival Queen and a handful of real clowns showed up at City Hall.

It's a wonder our mayor (who is willing to don an orange jumpsuit for a photo op about potholes) didn't get more in the spirit of things this morning. Perhaps he was just conserving his energy for the big announcement: The City of Portland will minimize or eliminate fees paid by the festival to Portland Police and the Parks Bureau, the mayor announced.

Before that announcement, there was much inspirational talk this morning. During testimony, one person likened Portlanders to roses because they "plant themselves and bloom here."

The mayor's announcement about fees appears to have caught his own bureau, the Office of Management and Finance, off-guard. In the bureau's weekly memo about the fiscal impact of City Council resolutions and ordinances, the office wrote the Rose Festival declaration had no "direct" fiscal impact on the city.

However, budget analysts in OMF did point out to elected officials yesterday that the Rose Festival has for years enjoyed significant subsidies from the city. And the mayor's surprise announcement about intending to minimize or drop fees didn't appear to figure in their calculation:

The resolution has no direct fiscal impact. In terms of the City's fiscal relationship with the Rose Festival, the Police Bureau, Bureau of Transportation, Parks Bureau, and Revenue Bureau have all identified some level of fiscal impact from past Rose Festivals. The Police Bureau absorbs approximately $150,000 each year in unreimbursed overtime for Rose Festival security and traffic control. Last year, Rose Festival overtime was $139,700. The Parks Bureau provides the Rose Festival a direct subsidy of $85,000 to offset the rental fee for Waterfront Park. The Rose Festival Association also pays the City $1 annually for rent of the former McCall's building in Waterfront Park for Festival HQ. The FY 2009-10 Adopted Budget awarded $43,600 of General Fund dollars to offset lost revenue in the Parks Bureau for the McCall's building, and included the same amount in the FY 2010-11 and 2011-12 budgets. The Revenue Bureau receives $6,900 in permit fees from the festival (no subsidies are given).

The $139,700 subsidy from the Police Bureau is roughly half what the department had to cut from its budget in November.

The city is currently laying the groundwork for the fiscal-year 2010 budget. Adams said this morning it was his intent to "minimize or eliminate" all fees paid by the Rose Festival to the City during that process. WW last year wrote about the city's decision to lease McCall's to the Rose Festival for $1 a year.

The celebration ended this morning with singing. The song? "Everything's Coming Up Roses." How appropriate.
City Hall clowns
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