Chair Kafoury releases 2019 budget, prioritizing equity, housing and children

April 26, 2018

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury released her executive budget today, a $2 billion effort to balance a changing community’s needs and the County’s future financial challenges.

The April 26 release begins five weeks of review, input and board deliberations including three public hearings in the community. The FY 2019 budget is scheduled to be adopted by the Board of County Commissioners on May 31, 2018.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury

The Chair’s budget maintains the vast majority of county services, from bridge maintenance, to the jails, to providing primary health health care for more than 52,000 people. It tackles emerging issues such as adding syringe disposal boxes and addressing a sexual assault kit backlog. It also invests $14 million in one-time-only money for the new Downtown Courthouse, $1 million in repairs for the Sheriff River Patrol boathouses and $1 million for new lighting and window covers to reduce suicide risk at the Justice Center.

“Our mission is to serve the people in our community who need support and stability,” Chair Kafoury said Thursday. “The county both holds up and carries out its vision of a community where anyone who needs help can find it, where everyone shares equally in opportunity and where the most vulnerable are protected.”

Increasing equitable outcomes

The Chair’s budget invests an unprecedented $500,000 to implement the employee-driven Workforce Equity Strategic Plan and an organizational consultant’s recommendations on the county’s training, policies and employment practices.

“If we don’t have equity and justice learning at the forefront of our own organization, if we don’t put equity at the center of how we hire, train and retain an excellent workforce, we cannot fully do this work. We cannot fully connect to the community we serve,’’ Chair Kafoury said.

The Chair also funded an Elections program to boost universal access to voting and funded an equity study on the Pacific Island community.

Moving families toward Stability

The budget fully funds the County’s $30.7 million share for the Joint Office of Homeless Services. It provides for the Sheriff’s HOPE homeless outreach team to continue, and adds $600,000 for stabilizing families who have been hardest to house.

“Children need a home, not a shelter, and this funding will help support those families who have struggled the most,’’ Chair Kafoury said.

The budget also includes funding for two new SUN school sites in the Portland Public Schools and covers a funding gap for two others in the Centennial School District. It adds two positions in the Joint Office and Office of Emergency Management respectively for emergency planning; an additional deputy medical examiner; a position to link the domestic violence system to seniors who are being abused; and immigration education and legal counsel for families and domestic violence survivors.

Budget Director Mike Jaspin presents the Chair's proposed 2019 budget.

The proposed budget also includes $160,000 to provide 250 immigrant and refugee households with immigration legal aid, up from $100,000 last year.

Budget supports Board’s efforts

The budget includes funding for Commissioner Sharon Meieran’s work identifying how to improve our mental health system; Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson’s early childhood study. The budget also ensures Commissioner Loretta Smith’s SummerWorks youth employment vision will continue and supports Commissioner Lori Stegmann’s master planning for Vance Park and funding for the HOPE team.

Although the Portland area is booming, Budget Director Mike Jaspin said, “a strong economy and sound management cannot fully compensate for our long-term structural deficit caused by Oregon’s constitutionally enshrined property tax system and PERS costs.’’

As a result, the Chair directed each department to take a two percent budget constraint, an $8.3 million reduction. These reductions were spread across the County and include transferring a portion of a Health Department communicable disease program to a coordinated care organization and eliminating two deputies from the River Patrol, one senior district attorney and administrative positions and other back-office reductions across a number of departments.

The Board will host three public hearings and take testimony on the budget:

To request an interpreter, assisted listening devices, or any other services, contact the Board Clerk at least 48 hours in advance, at 503-988-5274 or by email at