Inside City Hall Chris Quint, PCCC City Council Liaison April 15, 2016
City Manager Jon Jennings presented his recommended FY17 operating budget for the city to the City Council on April 4. The $236 million annual budget is approximately $11 million more than the FY16 operating budget, a 5% increase. The City Council voted unanimously to refer the budget to the Finance Committee and agreed to a schedule of hearings to discuss the various elements of the City Manager’s budget.
May 2 – City Council – First reading of the budget and public hearing
May 9 – City Council – Budget workshop
May 16 – City Council – Second reading and vote
City Manager Jennings emphasized that his proposed budget is part of his effort to “right size” city government, like his effort to streamline and create efficiencies in the permitting process, and focus on providing basic infrastructure services.
Read the City Manager’s overview of his proposed budget here.
Budget Highlights According to the City Manager, a status quo budget from last year would have resulted in an approximately 5% tax increase, however City Manager Jennings presented a budget that came in at 2.3% (combined City and School budget), lower than the 2.5% goal the City Council had set at the beginning of the year. The total tax rate increase for FY17 would be $0.47 per $1000 in housing value. If approved by the Council, this would be the lowest tax increase in five years.
14 % increase in health care costs
2% cost of living raise
A net reduction of 13 positions
Creation of a new, full-time Sustainability Coordinator in the City Manager’s Office who will assist in the review of the City’s sustainability measures. Total cost for this new position is budgeted at approximately $76,000.
Increased resources for staff training and development
India Street provides free healthcare to low-income people. Services normally provided at India Street would be moved to the Portland Community Health Center.
Elimination of 13 FTE employees from public health due to the state changing the way it allocates funds from the Fund for Healthy Maine, resulting in a loss of more than $800,000 in state funds.
General Assistance (GA) programs will remain funded at their FY16 levels, despite the challenges this funding has experienced at the state level over the past couple of years.
Creating of the new Permitting & Inspections Department
With the passage of the City Manager’s proposal to reorganize city departments to create the new Permitting and Inspections Department, the FY17 budget now includes a new budget line, specific to Permitting and Inspections, with a total budget of approximately $1.3 million.
New revenue from the increased permitting fee is budgeted at $557,672, a 13.5% increase over FY16. Total FY17 budgeted revenue from licenses & permits is approximately $4.7 million.
Parks, Recreation and Facilities
The City Manager is proposing to reorganize of City Departments to create a new Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department, merging Parks back with Recreation & Facilities.
The budget proposes to create the new position of Parks Manager
Total increase in the new department is approximately $1.9 million, an increase of 14.6% over last year.
By reorganizing the Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department, the City Manager is placing a great emphasis on the Public Works Department to focus on improving the city’s infrastructure, i.e. improving the condition of city roads and sidewalks.
City Staff are also exploring more efficient ways to collect trash and recycling and expect to outline those changes with a target implementation date of FY18.
Debt service costs for FY17 have increased by approximately $1.65 million, a 4.6% increase over FY16
The FY17 budget includes a $177,110 increase in Cumberland County tax assessment.
Separate from the budget, the Council is considering the following policy changes:
On April 28, the Housing Committee will consider a policy from the city Housing and Community Development division which would require any new rental housing development projects that receive city assistance through Affordable Housing TIF, HUD HOME or a CDBG subsidy to provide a certain percentage of units for individuals or families currently living in a Portland Shelter. Read more about this proposal here.
Inside City Hall: March Update
Inside City Hall Chris Quint, PCCC City Council Liaison March 16, 2016
While it is still early in the new year, City Hall is buzzing with activity. The City Council has not wasted any time in rolling up their sleeves and delving into some very important issues.
City Manager Jennings Proposes New Permitting and Inspections Department
City Manager Jon Jennings has outlined a new proposal, Order 165, to consolidate a number of different permitting and inspection functions into one new, streamlined department. The new department would include Inspections, Housing Safety, Zoning, and Business Licensing.
The PCCC supported the City Manager’s original proposal, providing public comment at the Council’s Economic Development Committee on 2/23 and the full City Council on 3/7. While we supported the proposed, streamlined department, we expressed our concerns about the increase in the permit fee – increasing from 1.1% to 1.6% and offered our assistance to come up with a different fee structure that would support the new department and at the same time not be a hindrance to development in Portland. Key elements of plan include:
New front-end position: The proposal would eliminate 2.5 office assistant positions and hire 3 new Permit Tech’s who would be trained to review all incoming applications; work directly with applicants on completeness and accuracy; issue same-day permits if applications and plans are completed; and serve as a point person for applicant questions throughout the process.
A new IT system to streamline the permitting process
A full review of Portland’s fee structure, assessing all pertinent fees assessed on building projects using comparable cities such as Burlington, VT and Lowell, MA. The goal would be to make the invoicing process simpler and clear.
To pay for this new department, the City Manager proposed an increase in the permitting fee. For those projects over $1,000, the initial proposed fee would have increased from 1.1% to 1.6%. The Chamber expressed concern over this increase and asked the City Council and City Manager to work with us to come up with an alternative fee structure.
At the March 7 Council meeting Councilor Dave Brennerman offered three amendments, all focused on lessening the impact of the increased fee on development.
Brennerman amendment #1 decresed the original proposed fee of 1.6% to 1.5%. This amendment passed unanimously.
Brennerman amendment #2 would have grandfathered those projects that have “…completed Level I, II, III Site Plan review, or received Administrative Authorization approval... on or before March 8, 2016...". The Council voted 5-2 to send this amendment to the Planning Board for review due to the fact that it included language referencing affordable housing in Chapter 14 of the city code. Any proposed ordinance or amendment that has this reference included is required to go to the Planning Board for review before the Council can take action.
Brennerman amendment #3 would establish a discount, ranging from 5% to 25%, for housing development projects based on the percentage of new units that are low-income or workforce units. Like Brennerman amendment #2, the Council voted, unanimously, to refer this to the Planning Board because it deals with affordable housing as defined in Chapter 14.
The Council voted unanimously to approve City Manager Jennings proposal, as amended with Brennerman amendment #1 (Councilor’s Duson and Mavadones were absent at the March 7 Council meeting). City Manager Jennings and his staff will now begin developing the implementation plan and creating the necessary metrics to measure success.
I will make sure everyone knows the final outcome of the vote on Brennerman amendments #2 & #3 after the March 21 Council meeting.
City Council Planning Meeting – January 25
The City Council held a planning workshop focused on setting goals for the coming year. Former Councilor Pam Plumb facilitated a lively conversation that covered a number of important topics, all of which fall under in the purview of the following Council committees:
Energy and Sustainability
Health and Human Services
Legislative and Nominating
The Council identified a number of issues that they would like to see addressed in the next year and then worked to narrow those issues down to a more manageable number of tangible goals. Each committee will be digging into the final agreed upon list of committee goals specific to their respective committee over the coming weeks and months.
City Council Workshop – February 8
58 Fore Street – Tuck O’Brien, City Planning Director, presented the Planning Board’s recommendation for designation of the Portland Company Historic District located at 58 Fore Street.
Tax acquired and city owned property – Greg Mitchell, Economic Development Director, presented an overview of proposed amendments to city rules pertaining to the disposition of tax-acquired and other city-owned property
Congress Square Redesign Project The city received over 100 submissions from landscape designers and visual artists to create concepts for the redesign of Congress Square. Finalists will be invited to a site visit, interview and public forum – to be held in May – where they will present their design to the community and key stakeholders.
Community Development Block Grant Annual Committee and City Manager Presentation
The Housing Preservation and Replacement Ordinance (Section 14-483) now (1) defines specific geographic areas where replacement units may be provided; (2) limits the amount of time that a developer can put up a guaranty for a removed unit to three years; and (3) defines units that are intentionally vacant for three years or more as removed from the City’s housing stock.
Portland Community Chamber of Commerce Contracts New City Hall Liaison
Chris Quint Founder and CEO of Quint CO
For over 15 years, Chris has developed and implemented effective strategies that integrate government relations and advocacy, public relations, media relations, marketing and brand management, and community relations. Prior to founding Quint CO, Chris held senior level positions in non-profits, member associations and public higher education, and has now leveraged that experience to further the public policy and communications goals of a wide range of businesses, non-profits and public institutions.
Most recently Chris served as the Executive Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the University of Southern Maine (USM). In this capacity, he served as the chief communications, marketing and public affairs official responsible for community relations, business outreach, public relations, marketing and brand management, and government relations. Chris worked with former USM President David Flanagan to develop and manage a public campaign to stabilize the public university during a time of turmoil. Chris successfully coordinated an effort to garner public support for balancing a multimillion dollar budget deficit and begin re-positioning USM as Maine’s Metropolitan University, dedicated to providing students with a high-quality, accessible, affordable education from the premier institution for public higher education in the region.
Chris has maintained a significant presence in the state capital, both in Maine and in Colorado, and he takes great pride in his ability to work with elected officials from both sides of the political spectrum, and diverse constituencies to achieve positive results.
Chris served as the Executive Director of the Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989 (MSEA) – a 10,000 member run union with a $5 million yearly budget and over 30 diverse staff – where he was the chief policy, political, communications and program advisor to the President, Board of Directors and rank-n-file members. Chris provided strategic advice to union leadership and members on a host of public policy issues affecting public and private workers.
Prior to running one of the most influential and powerful political organizations in Maine, Chris served as the Senior Public Affairs Director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England – a three state affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America serving families in Maine New Hampshire and Vermont - responsible for communications, political advocacy, grasstops and grassroots mobilization, and government relations for Maine and Vermont.
Chris began his diverse career in Colorado where he successfully organized and managed state house and senate campaigns, statewide and local ballot initiatives, and advocacy campaigns focused on local governments, the state legislature and the Governor’s office.