June 24th, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

City Council Quick Hits: Tax Breaks, Soccer, Furloughs and Merit Pay

leonard paulson adams
Portland City Council has waded through a number of topics this morning and afternoon, after its marathon session last night on the topic of renaming 39th Avenue for Cesar E. Chavez.

Mayor Sam Adams referred a proposal to give a 10-year tax break to a new housing complex back to his office Commissioner Nick Fish's office. A handful of neighbors from North Portland had testified against the proposal mostly out of concern for the design of the four-story, mixed-use building.

Commissioner Randy Leonard ended up voting for a proposal [PDF] to divorce the city's efforts to bring Major League Soccer to Portland from its attempts to find a new stadium location for Triple-A baseball, despite earlier threats to the contrary. Fish also voted for the resolution, even though he voted against the two-stadium deal back in March. Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Adams also voted "yes." Commissioner Amanda Fritz was the loan dissenting vote in the 4-1 split. She said she still had concerns about the funding sources for the remodel at PGE Park "in these times." Leonard, in explaining his change of heart, said Aug. 1 is the new deadline to find a site in Portland for the Portland Beavers minor-league baseball team. "Then all bets are off," Leonard said.

And, in a separate discussion about the impending layoffs at the Bureau of Development Services, Leonard said he is making an effort to find new city positions for some of the nearly 150 people losing their jobs due largely to the decline in revenue from building permits. The council approved a proposal to have all managers, including Leonard, take 10 furlough days -- for a savings of about $116,000. Leonard said he would use savings from the his furloughs to pay for a new position in his office for someone who is losing his or her job at BDS. (Updated: Thursday 11:40 a.m.)

Fritz also introduced a resolution today to freeze merit pay raises for non-represented employees. But her resolution was tabled in a 3-2 vote. Saltzman joined Fritz in supporting the proposal, which was designed to pool money to prevent future layoffs among non-represented employees if the economy declines further. Leonard called Fritz's idea "unfair on a a number of levels" in part because he thought it targeted female administrators. Fritz, for her part, said she was disappointed in the council's unwillingness to plan ahead.
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