A number I haven’t seen is how much of Portland’s total social services costs (excluding state and federal grants) are funded by residential property taxes. With diminishing state and federal funding and a large school bond vote approaching, wouldn’t the City Council and taxpayers benefit from knowing?

The direct and indirect social costs appear to be significant and growing – some of which are: additional public safety costs (library constables, police in Bayside and Parkside, Fire Department ambulance transport); schools (lunch, language); public health (medical, dental, counseling, drug, sexually transmitted diseases, needle exchange); the Office of Economic Opportunity; public housing; asylum-seekers, and public shelters.

Portland is burdened by many of these costs because of low, and shrinking, political influence in Augusta, something that an elected mayor was supposed to correct.

My understanding is that the council and the city manager consider competing budget programs humanely, responsibly and contextually, but cost issues come to public attention as singular crises without reference to the total costs embedded within many departmental programs. As a month-long budget process begins, we know the city has a high residential tax rate and that property taxes will rise. It would help knowing total social services costs to compare to cultural, educational, infrastructure and other essential city expenditures.

Robert Kahn