June 16th, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Business

Bureau of Development Services Slashes Jobs After Director Promises Otherwise

On May 21, 2009, Paul Scarlett, director of Portland's Bureau of Development Services went before City Council to talk about a fee-increase proposal. BDS is heavily dependent on fees from permits and fines to pay for its operations. But since fewer people have been seeking building permits amid the recession, the bureau has had to dip into its rainy-day funds. Since July, the bureau has spent $5.8 million of its $14 million in reserves.

At the end of Scarlett's testimony on May 21 (which begins in the second link at 74 minutes), Scarlett told the council his bureau had explored a number of cost-saving measures to help the bureau recover from the downturn in permitting.

"We will not have to cut any position," Scarlett said. "No action of layoffs will be taken by the Bureau of Development Services. That's something that we're very proud of."

Less than four weeks later, that's no longer the case. The 300 employees of BDS are beginning to learn there will be three rounds of layoffs. According to the news trickling out, 45 people will lose their jobs in July. Another 45 people will have to leave around August. And by December, another 60 employees will probably get their pink slips, too.

Scarlett could not be reached for comment. BDS's spokeswoman was out of the office. Commissioner Randy Leonard, who oversees BDS, refused to comment on the news because the affected parties have not been notified.
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