Portland voters tonight overwhelmingly passed measures to renovate public schools and maintain city parks.
In early returns released Tuesday night, Measure 26-213—the five-year parks levy that will raise about $48 million a year—led 64% to 35%. And voters were also passing Measure 26-215, the $1.2 billion Portland Public Schools construction bond, by 75% to 24%.
The passage of a levy comes as a tremendous relief to a cash-strapped Portland Parks & Recreation. For years, the bureau expanded eastward, despite its expenses consistently exceeding revenues. Late City Commissioner Nick Fish made painful cuts last year. But the COVID-19 pandemic required a suspension of the paid programs that produce more than a quarter of parks' revenues.
The levy is backstop to that loss of funding—although it also prevents city officials from having to make unpleasant choices between daily trash pickup in Laurelhurst Park or paying the salaries of police officers.
The school bond, meanwhile, is one of a series of scheduled bonds to renovate aging Portland Public Schools buildings. This edition, which will maintain current property taxes attributable to a previous school bond for the next eight years, will overhaul Jefferson and Benson Polytechnic high schools. At both schools, students were attending class in buildings that would crumble in a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.