The Portland City Council approved a $276 million municipal budget for fiscal year 2025 on Monday night that increased the overall tax rate by 5%.

The council voted unanimously to pass the general fund budget after an animated discussion about an amendment from Councilor Kate Sykes to give more money to the library for a few new positions. The rest of the budget was not discussed by the council on Monday night.

The new library positions that will be funded by the municipal budget include a marketing director, a library associate in the teen department and a part-time role with the Burbank Branch Library.

“It speaks to our values as a city that we want to have a strong public library,” Sykes said of her amendment.

The amendment changed the city’s overall tax-rate increase for fiscal year 2025 from 4.9% – the rate that came out of the finance committee – to 5%, according to Sykes’ memo on the amendment. On a home assessed at $350,000, property owners would see a total tax increase of $252 from the current year.

Portland’s overall property tax rate is the average of the municipal and school tax rates. Two weeks ago, the council approved the $161 million school budget – which will go before voters on the June ballot – requiring a tax-rate increase of 6.6%. The municipal budget approved Monday night will increase the city’s portion of the tax rate by 3.2%.


During discussions on the library amendment, Councilor Anna Trevorrow offered her support.

“The library is a department that reaches a broad range of socioeconomic groups in Portland and I think that it’s in line with our vision and council goals,” she said.

However, Mayor Mark Dion and Councilors April Fournier and Anna Bullett said they were hesitant to support the amendment. They all said they’d like to see the library go through a more comprehensive strategic planning process before the council commits to funding new staff.

“I am a huge fan of the library and I always want to give it money, but I want to do it in a way that’s thoughtful and forward thinking and I’m not sure if this is the right way to do it,” Bullett said.

The library is not a city department, but a separate municipal entity much like the school system. The city funds about 83% of the library’s budget but the council doesn’t have oversight of its operations. Dion said this was a big reason he was hesitant to use the city budget to fund new staff at the library.

“I can’t hold up the library’s staffing needs against the police department or health and human services or any other city department because we don’t have that oversight,” Dion said in an interview after the meeting.


Sykes’ amendment ultimately passed on a 5-3 vote, with Bullett, Dion and Fournier opposing it.

Under the new budget, pay-as-you-throw trash bags will be $1.90 per 15-gallon bag and $3.80 per 30-gallon bag, up from their current $1.75 and $3.50 prices respectively.

The city’s Spring Street and Elm Street parking garages also will see rate increases from $3 per hour to $4 per hour, and parking at the Ocean Gateway will increase from $20 per day to $25 per day.

The Health and Human Services Department continues to be the biggest departmental budget in the city, though the new budget will spend $2.3 million less on the department. Currently the department costs the city $55.6 million. The department also makes up the bulk of new staff positions, accounting for 65 of 81 new positions, though many of those have been added in response to items approved by the council this year like the city’s new housing-first program aimed at addressing homelessness.

The budget was amended several times by the finance committee after the council first reviewed the proposed budget crafted by City Manager Danielle West in April.

The most significant change to the original proposed budget came from city staff. This year the city received less state money for General Assistance than expected, a gap staff ended up closing by amending the budget to use $2 million in COVID-19 federal grant dollars and $2 million from the city’s fund balance – essentially, a savings account for the city.


During public comment, Steven Scharf, president of the West End Neighborhood Association said he was concerned about this amendment.

“I’m very concerned with the city doing that,” Scharf said. “We should not be balancing our budget on a fund balance, the fund balance should be used for emergencies only.”

After several other amendments, including the addition of a new human resources employee to the parks department, the finance committee ultimately approved a $276 million budget, slightly tighter than West’s $277 million proposal.

The municipal budget will take effect July 1.

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