PORTLAND – Portland’s next mayor was sworn in at a public ceremony Wednesday morning, and promised immediate action to streamline the city's administrative budget and increase safety at schools.
Mayor Charlie Hales says he will cut about 10 percent from all city bureau budgets to prevent a potential crisis in the future. He also began pinpointing jobs to eliminate.
"Our budget, as I said, is not in the catastrophe that other states and cities are facing - you know, the California cities. We have to be careful, but we're not going broke," he said.
Hales said his priorities remain what he promised in his campaign: to spend tax dollars more wisely on key services, like paving streets and keeping parks open and green. To that end, Hales said he will take over control of all bureaus from commissioners for three months starting in February.
“They’re nervous about it, but they can also see the point, and they can see that I’m doing this for reasons of good government, not as a power play,” said Hales, who added he wants the entire city council to focus on fixing a budget with a $24-million gap to fill.
“I need the whole council to work with me on this difficult set of choices about where can we cut, where is there overhead and administrative superstructure that we can do without.”
Hales also said he has been working closely with Portland Police Chief Mike Reese to understand the police bureau. Hales says what he’s learned has him making plans for improvements.
“We’re going to be making big changes in the culture and practice of the police bureau to deal with the community more humanely,” said Hales.
The mayor also said advocating for more and stable education funding from the state is high on his agenda, and so is developing a reasonable plan for growth and development that fits the city’s needs and values.
“Watch for me to put a steady hand on the wheel and to steer us to a future that most of us agree on," said Hales.
Hales finished by saying to not expect fireworks from him as mayor. But there will be changes.
Mayor Hales also asked for Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Tom Miller’s resignation, and got it. Miller will leave PBOT February 4th.