Portland city councilors will have a busy meeting Monday night, with a crowded agenda that includes a budget vote, emergency shelter licensing rules, a code of ethics and the appointment of a new city clerk.

Mayor Kate Snyder is also planning to introduce a resolution calling for the state to form a homelessness management task force to revise General Assistance law, establish a state resettlement office and statewide emergency shelter system, and to address other issues that impact homeless people.

“What we’re saying is we need help and we think it’s most appropriately managed at the state level, because Portland isn’t the only city that’s experiencing challenges,” Snyder said. “Providing emergency shelter and services is certainly something many towns and cities are working through, and a lot of the obligation lies in General Assistance law so we want to make sure the General Assistance laws are working for the state of Maine.”

The council is expected to take public comment and vote on the $269 million municipal budget approved 3-0 by the finance committee last month.

The committee agreed with a staff recommendation to use American Rescue Plan Act funding to close what had been a $2 million gap in the city manager’s proposed budget, according to Snyder, and also added funding for an additional position in the city’s sustainability office, though Snyder said that added cost will come from parking revenues and will not increase taxes.

The budget includes a 5.5 percent increase in the city side of the tax rate which, when taken in conjunction with a 4.1 percent increase in the school tax rate, would result in an overall tax rate increase of 4.8 percent, or 62 cents per $1,000 of value. That would add up to $226 more in property taxes for a home valued at $365,000.


“It’s a larger increase then we’ve seen in recent years, but I think what we learned through the school budget process is the community is sympathetic to the pressures on municipal government at this time with regards to supply shortages, staff retention issues, staff pay issues and increased costs across the board,” Snyder said.

The shelter licensing rules on Monday’s agenda would establish licensing requirements and enforcement provisions for emergency shelters, and were originally approved by the council in November, only to be reconsidered and postponed for later action in January.

The rules would require all emergency shelters, including the city-run adult and family shelters, to apply for and receive licenses, and would implement a two-tier license fee structure for small and large emergency shelters. They also would create a bed-density cap of 300 beds within a one-mile radius,  a 1,000-foot buffer zone between shelters and a requirement that shelters provide space for those they are housing during the day.

The code of ethics, which was approved 4-0 by the council’s rules committee last month, would establish rules to address issues such as conflict of interest and use of public resources. The mayor said the committee developed the code in response to a variety of questions that have come up in recent years as well as feedback from the public. She also noted that the city’s Charter Commission has proposed an ethics code.

“In my view, we can go ahead and we can consider and vote on this code of ethics on Monday night and have that on the books,” Snyder said. “It would be trumped by an action of the voters if the Charter Commission’s code of ethics were to be approved.”

The council is also set to vote Monday night on a recommendation from the city manager search subcommittee to name Ashley Rand to the position of city clerk. Rand is currently the deputy director of economic development in Westbrook and would replace outgoing City Clerk Kathy Jones, who is scheduled to retire June 17.

If her appointment is approved by the full council, Rand would earn a salary of $100,000 and would begin her duties in Portland on July 6, the city said in a news release Friday. The council will also vote on the appointment of Melissa Cowie, currently the deputy city clerk, to serve as interim clerk for the period between Jones’ retirement and Rand’s first day.

Monday’s hybrid council meeting is at 5 p.m. and will take place both in person in Council Chambers and remotely on Zoom.

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