PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A city auditor’s report released Tuesday says Portland leaders failed to fully deliver on promises they made to voters as they implemented arts, cannabis, affordable housing, and street repair programs funded by voter-approved taxes and bond measures.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the audit focused on measures and taxes passed in 2016: the 3% tax on recreational marijuana, the $258.4 million affordable housing bond, and the 10-cents-a-gallon tax to raise money to repair roads over the next four years. The audit also analyzed the 7-year-old Portland art tax for schools and nonprofit programs that assesses a $35 charge per resident annually.
City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero’s report detailed a number of shortcomings. The city has used vague language when laying out commitments to voters, doesn’t consistently determine how realistic it is to keep promises made, lacks consistent monitoring to make sure commitments are delivered on and has diverged from some voter promises due to bureau leadership changes and the city’s commission form of government.
The report recommends city officials determine the costs to implement accountability measures to confirm they’re practical and keep track of the meaning and intent behind them, make sure promises to voters are specific, achievable and possibly have a deadline in mind by the time they are discussed in ballot measure titles and explanatory statements, and establish who is responsible for monitoring commitments to accountability.
In a joint statement, city council members thanked the auditor’s office for the report, saying the recommendations were “thoughtful and well‐reasoned,” and would help them make sure future accountability measures are more clearly defined.