City Council Will Conduct Cost Analyses for Future Ballot Initiatives

The resolution comes as unforeseen costs for charter change cause heartburn.

City Council meets about homeless measures on November 3. (Anthony Effinger)

The Portland City Council passed a resolution today that requires the city to conduct an analysis of the economic impacts of any initiative that makes the ballot.

“Before today, we haven’t had a consistent policy in place to do the financial analysis related to ballot measures,” Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who introduced the policy, said. “Now, before Portlanders cast their vote on election day, there is a process in place that can get voters the best available information possible.”

The resolution pledges that the city will hire a firm to conduct an analysis on every measure sent to the ballot by the City Council or by voters to study projected revenue, administrative costs, and overall costs that would be incurred.

“The resolution requires an external, neutral party to estimate revenue generation as well as collection, programmatic, and payer education costs,” the resolution reads. “The cost of the consultant will be paid by the bureau responsible for program management.”

For ballot measures that come from constituents or groups outside of City Hall, the petitioners of the measure can, if they like, receive up to $25,000 in funding from the city to conduct an external analysis of the financial impacts. “The City will offer a one-to-one match to help cover the costs of the estimate,” the resolution reads.

The resolution comes after the significant heartburn caused by the increasing and unforeseen costs of the charter reform measure that Portland voters approved in November 2022. Proponents who campaigned for the ballot measure have been criticized by city officials, including members of the City Council, for not being transparent about the total cost of the city’s ongoing overhaul that resulted from the measure’s passage.

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