One consequence of giving money to a committee of persons who represent different interests is that they will quickly find ways to spend the largesse several times over. The City of Portland discovered in January that it believes it will have $19 million more in revenue in the next fiscal year than it had planned to receive: $4.6 million of recurring revenue and $14.4 million of one-time income. At the end of January the council voted 4-1 (Commissioner Saltzman dissenting) to adopt a policy proposed by Amanda Fritz to allocate at least half of the extra money (so about $7.2 million) to "infrastructure maintenance or replacement," meaning "emergency preparedness, parks and recreation, and transportation." This policy will apply not only to fiscal year 2015-2016 but also to the three following fiscal years.
Within a week after the council adopted Commissioner Fritz's resolution, the Housing Bureau made a pitch to receive all of the remaining $7.2 million. Not coincidentally, the Housing Bureau operates under Commissioner Saltzman.
It's a wise idea for the city to devote some more money to maintaining what it already owns instead of building new things and starting new programs such as the Office of Equity (a project of Commissioner Fritz, as it happens). I'd like to encourage the council to resist every temptation to allocate any of the unexpected manna to any new project or program -- not just the $7.2 million that Commissioner Fritz's resolution requires to be allocated to maintenance and replacement, but the entire $14.4 million. I would allocate half of the $14.4 million to patch and repair roads and the other half to repair sewer and water lines underneath the roads before they're patched and repaired.
Until the city repairs the potholes and cracking pavement that it already owns, it shouldn't be building any more. Similarly, until the city brings its parks up to par, it shouldn't acquire any more. Feed the pets we already have before buying new ones.