A representative of the Portland Business Alliance has refused to sign off on City Commissioner Steve Novick's proposed budget for the Portland Bureau of Transportation—usually a formality in the city budget process.
What's the hangup? Novick wants to end a deal where PBOT pays for downtown marketing campaigns in exchange for higher rates on downtown parking meters.
Bernie Bottomly, the PBA's representative to the PBOT budget advisory committee, has joined with Corky Collier of the Columbia Corridor Association to issue their own splinter budget suggestion to City Council.
Their proposal would restore the "good faith" agreement for PBOT to give tourism group Travel Portland more than $800,000 for advertising the virtues of visiting downtown Portland. (Under Novick's plan, Travel Portland would have to compete for highly-sought general-fund dollars.)
It's another case of a city official winding up at loggerheads with neighborhood leaders over parking—a political third rail that Novick began touching during his 2012 campaign.
In his budget letter, Novick says PBOT has already more than paid its debt to downtown by paying for the Portland Streetcar, which increases neighborhood property values.
"Our position is, in effect: 'Hey, we're already shelling out a chunk of money to market downtown by paying for the streetcar,'" Novick writes. "'Since the General Fund benefits from marketing downtown, can't it at least pick up this Travel Portland deal?'"
Bottomly and Collier argue back that Novick is reneging on a deal: more money for PBOT from downtown meters means more money for downtown in advertising.
And they raise a veiled threat against Novick's big plan to find new taxes and fees for PBOT.
"These agreements were made in good faith and the community stakeholders have upheld their end of the bargain," they write. "If the city were to move away from those commitments it would undermine the trust and cooperation that will be needed to address the bureau's long-term funding needs."
Novick has been aggressive this budget cycle in hunting for more PBOT money. Yesterday, he announced a request for $1 million for flashing beacons at crosswalks in East Portland—then suggested cutting the Mounted Patrol to pay for walking safety.