After a year of lockdown and loss, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners today approved a $2.82 billion budget, investing record amounts into the COVID-19 response and recovery and launching consequential efforts to end people’s homelessness and elevate libraries and early childhood education.
The 2022 budget includes an ambitious spending plan for the County’s first share of new American Rescue Plan federal recovery funds — $78.9 million — to provide recovery services ranging from eviction prevention to wraparound services to families to new strategies to reduce gun violence.
“This budget delivers hope,” Chair Deborah Kafoury said.
“It propels us beyond the COVID-19 crisis into a future that is healthier, more equitable and safer. It centers the County’s efforts in the communities we serve. And it builds a stable foundation for education, library services and housing efforts today that will pay forward for generations.”
Between the American Rescue Plan funds and three voter-approved ballot measures, the budget — which funds services from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022 — represents a 37 percent increase in community investments over 2021.
The most dramatic budget decisions are based on the County’s efforts to reduce harm and build resilience in the face of COVID-19, a rise in community violence and other crises. The budget:
“We learned from the COVID-19 crisis that the County can find solutions in partnership with our community and make a real difference,” Chair Kafoury said.
Voters in 2020 overwhelmingly approved historic investments in early childhood education, the County’s libraries and work to end people’s homelessness. This year’s adopted budget reveals the County’s blueprints for carrying out each of those initiatives.
In May 2020, Metro voters approved a new business income tax and personal income tax on high-income households to support permanent supportive housing for people who need wraparound services to get and keep their apartments. The budget includes at least $52 million of new programming in the Joint Office of Homeless Services, which will partner with other County departments and community providers to provide additional rent assistance, behavioral health and addiction services, street outreach, and shelter capacity, including alternative models like motels and villages.
In November 2020, Multnomah County voters also approved a new personal income tax on high-income households to fund preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds. The program will be run by the Department of County Human Services, and along with the Health Department and County Management, includes $34.1 million of new investments to build the program so children can begin filling slots as promised in the fall of 2022.
In November 2020, Multnomah County voters also approved a bond measure to raise $387 million to transform the Library, building an East County flagship library, renovating seven library branches and building a new, more efficient operations center.
“Voters told us with no uncertainty that they want a better future for our kids, our community and our most vulnerable neighbors,” Chair Kafoury said. “And the County will be effective, transparent and accountable in carrying out their wishes.”
The Budget is Chair Kafoury’s seventh as Chair and 12th as a Board member. It also reflects the Chair’s work with Commissioners Sharon Meieran, Susheela Jayapal, Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Stegmann, who advocated for amendments to the Chair’s first draft of a spending plan, released in late April. After more than five weeks of public discussion, two public hearings and 18 public work sessions around the Chair’s Executive Budget, the Board approved amendments adding:
As part of the process, the Board members made several budget notes:
The Board approved the 2022 Multnomah County budget unanimously.
“This budget supports the work of thousands of County employees and our partners who serve our community everyday,’’ Chair Kafoury said. “I want to thank all the community members who weighed in, the Board and all the County staff who contributed to its development, especially Chief of Staff Kimberly Melton, Budget Director Christian Elkin and Chief Financial Officer Eric Arellano,’’ Chair Kafoury said. “We are ready and looking forward to putting these dollars to work.”
Commissioner Susheela Jayapal said, “I can’t help but look back a year and remember that at this time last year we really had very little idea of what lay ahead. We didn’t know how long the pandemic would last, we didn’t know how many lives it ultimately and tragically would take, and we didn’t know the full extent of the impact it would have on the residents of Multnomah County. We didn’t know how the racial justice movement that sprang up after George Floyd’s murder would unfold. We didn’t know which ballot measures would pass in November; and we didn’t know who would be sworn in as president in January of 2021.
"It seems fitting that the unprecedented year behind us has led to an unprecedented budget for the year ahead of us.”
Full texts of the individual Board members’ remarks are online here.