Dear friends and neighbors,

Last week the Multnomah County Commission adopted our 2018 budget and I wanted to share with you some highlights.

We live in tumultuous times, but the voters of Multnomah County had the good sense in November to elect a board of commissioners that represents our community’s changing demographics, as well as our steadfast values.

They did that, I think, because they expected us to do things differently than you see elsewhere in the country. And this budget shows that we were listening.

Throughout this budget, the values that bind us together are showing through, and you can see that in the priority investments we’re making:

  • A continued commitment to housing and to help the seniors, families and veterans who are sleeping on our streets.

  • An investment in mental health care and addictions services to respond to an opioid epidemic and to improve care for inmates in our jails.

  • More resources for families who are experiencing extreme poverty and displacement, including $4.7 million that will help us improve our crisis network for families who find themselves trapped between stagnant wages and rising rents.

  • And this budget aligns the resources we have, pulling together departments, breaking down silos, and moving beyond programs -- focusing instead on the people we serve, coordinating our response so that we can truly break the cycle of poverty.

  • $25 million in targeted infrastructure projects, that will provide family wage jobs and replace outdated and unsafe buildings and infrastructure.

  • Investments throughout the budget that will reduce our reliance on jail cells to solve problems that can be resolved more effectively and at lower cost with prevention and wraparound services.

And where we can, we’re providing some stability:

  • This budget is balanced over three years, with conservative estimates to help us weather a recession if it comes.

  • We are proactively addressing our PERS liability, keeping our promise to employees and to taxpayers.

  • We have set aside $2.7 million that will help us respond to state and federal cuts. Hopefully that’s all we’ll need.

I want to thank my fellow commissioners for making a good budget better with their insight and experience. Together, we can make our community more resilient, more fair and more just.

To read more about the budget, visit the Multnomah County website.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah Kafoury

Chair calls for hope and equity in State of the County address

“We have worked hard to put the county on sound financial footing, but we’re bracing for a storm,” Kafoury said in her annual State of the County address at the City Club of Portland on April 21. She said her initial reaction to the presidential election was devastation and fear.

But as Trump took the White House, voters in Multnomah County elected an all-woman board, a majority of whom are women of color. They are women who have taken up the fight for affordable health care, safe infrastructure, robust industry, empowered youth, and housing as a human right.

“We can come together for our children, for the air they breathe and the water they drink. For the education they require and the opportunity we can create. We can face our racist and homophobic past, and work for a more equitable and just future,” Kafoury said. “I’m ready to work with this board to tackle what lies ahead. And I can tell you it won’t be easy.”

Read full article and read or watch Chair Kafoury's speech here.

Hours extended for passport applications and marriage licenses

Ben and Jonas Rosenberg at customer service with their two-week-old twins Eva, left and Teddy.

Good news for travelers, lovers and property owners:

Beginning May 15, Multnomah County has made it easier than ever to apply for a passport, get a marriage license, or record documents.

The Division of Assessment, Recording and Taxation has extended its customer service hours, now opening at 8:30 a.m. to meet a growing demand for services. The office in the first floor of the Multnomah Building, 501 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland.

“In the last five years, we’ve seen a 500% increase in passport applications. We’ve gone from taking no photos to taking more than 9,000 photos a year,’’ said County Assessor Michael Vaughn.

In addition, marriage license applications have increased from just over 6,000 to 8,000 a year.

Read full article here.

County Mental Health Call Center available for those impacted by MAX tragedy

Scene from memorial wall at MAX Hollywood Station

Multnomah County reminds residents that its Mental Health Call Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in any language for people who may be in crisis, despondent or feel they need to talk with someone after traumatic events such as the tragedy on MAX. A team of mental health professionals is prepared to help at 503-988-4888. Individuals can also call toll-free to 800-716-9769. The hearing impaired can dial 711 to be connected to the center.

For more information about mental health services in the metro area, visit the Mental Health Call Center web page. There is hope. We are here to listen.

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