The city of Portland’s Revenue Bureau has a new plan to ensure better compliance with local tax laws, a move that officials speculate could bring the city $780,000 to $2.3 million in ongoing annual revenue and up to $540,000 more in Arts Tax collections.
And as part of the plan, Mayor Charlie Hales on Wednesday will ask the City Council to bless a $295,000 infusion to the Revenue Bureau to establish a taxpayer exchange with the Internal Revenue Service.
What makes the "innovation fund" particularly ironic was the lack of innovation in the ideas from within city government.
An innovation task force that reviewed the proposals "concluded that very few of the proposals were truly innovative," according to a memo from the task force to Hales.
"Our seven recommended proposals all have innovative qualities, but in general, we thought that none of the proposals radically rethought the way the City does business," the memo stated. "Rather, we were surprised that many of the proposals had not already been implemented using resources within bureaus’ current budgets."
In a memo to the City Council, Hales conceded that some of the ideas weren't real barn-burners.
"I agree with the task force that many of the proposals were good ideas, but that the City can do more to encourage an innovative culture," Hales wrote. "I also agree with the task force that few of the proposals address the City’s equity goals, and we should be working with our bureaus on equity proposals that they could bring forward for next year’s Innovation Fund."
Here's the list of those not-so-innovative items that Hales will also ask the City Council to informally green light:
Portland Bureau of Transportation: $35,000 to create a plan for variable-priced parking in the South Waterfront district, where parking stalls would cost more or less depending on demand.
Portland Housing Bureau: $48,000 for a pilot data-sharing program that would enable city bureaus to feed information to the Housing Bureau, reducing the “data entry burden” on the city.
Portland Development Commission: $80,000 for an “early adapter program.” What’s that? From the proposal: “The bureaus will work as a team (with guidance from consultant) to craft a technology-based tool that will provide an interface between bureaus and industry to exchange needs and proposed solutions.”
Portland Planning & Sustainability Bureau: $90,000 to update the city’s landslide maps.
Portland Fire Bureau: $108,000 for the “PulsePoint” smart phone app. The program would notify citizen volunteers that someone nearby is in cardiac arrest and provide information for the nearest defibrillator.
Portland Bureau of Transportation: $250,000 for a “web-based application system for tracking and mapping agencies’ capital improvement (CIP) and maintenance plans, plus management systems to enable coordinated decisions for both immediate and long term work in the public right of way at the most comprehensive level.”
Correction: This article incorrectly stated that the Portland Housing Bureau project would enable city bureaus to feed information to the Housing Bureau, reducing the data entry burden on the city. The program would instead cut down on data entry for property management companies, non-profits and government agencies such as Home Forward -- not city bureaus.
©2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)