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Posted on: August 14, 2020

City News Round Up for Friday, August 14

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City News Round Up for Friday, August 14

Please check our agenda center as Committees, Boards & Commissions continue to meet remotely. The Council meets next on Monday, August 31 at 5:30 PM. 

City Hall remains closed to the general public at this time. Staff continue to serve customers via email, phone, and virtual meetings. The City Clerk’s Office and Parking Office are open for walk-in service via our Myrtle Street entrance. The Treasury Office is processing auto and boat registrations by appointment only via our Congress Street side-entrance. For more information, please visit our COVID-19 page.  Any questions? Please call 207-874-8300 or email info@portlandmaine.gov

Health of Portland Report
Back before the pandemic hit, our Portland Public Health Division team had just released the Health of Portland report, which is packed with info and stats about our community The data compiled in this report will drive subsequent initiatives and programmatic interventions to be tailored to the needs of Portlanders. As we get ready to welcome onboard our new public health director, Bob Fowler, on Monday, this work will continue in earnest. We hope you will take some time to look through the information compiled in this report. 

Council Approves Three Appointees to Serve on Upcoming Charter Commission
After receiving 39 applications, and interviewing 20 people, the City Council’s newly created Charter Commission Ad Hoc Committee advanced a slate of recommendations for the Council appointees to the Charter Commission. The full Council voted to approve the slate at its Monday, August 10 meeting. The Council also approved an item relating to nine additional voter members that will serve on the Charter Commission. In order to become one of those nine members, interested people will need to run for the position and be voted on during an upcoming election. 

Council Seeks Applicants for Racial Equity Steering Committee
The Portland City Council established a Racial Equity Steering Committee as part of a resolution that it passed at its July 13, 2020 Council meeting. The Committee will be tasked with developing recommendations to the City Council regarding the ways in which city government should address and respond to institutional racism and structural inequities. Interested applicants must apply by noon on Monday, August 31. Click the link above to find out how to apply. 

CDC Alert:  Bat Tests Positive for Rabies in Portland
The Maine CDC alerted us to the fact that a bat from Portland tested positive for rabies. Rabies is common in wild animals in Maine. Make sure to never touch an animal that is wild or unknown to you. You should also make sure your animals are up to date on rabies vaccine. For more information on rabies, please visit www.maine.gov/dhhs/rabies.

Keep Up to Date with the FY21 Municipal Budget Process 
Given the significant revenue losses the City has faced in light of the pandemic, the City took several measures to reduce expenditures as it prepared the FY21 recommended budget. Despite getting some federal and state COVID-relief funds, the recommended budget includes cuts to services and positions given continued revenue losses combined with increasing costs outside of the City’s control.
Read the City Manager’s full budget letter, here. The Finance Committee held meetings on August 5, 6, and 12. It will conduct further review of the budget at a meeting on September 2. That meeting will provide an opportunity for public comment. The Council will host a budget workshop on September 14. The first read of the budget will take place at the Council’s September 9 meeting with the final vote expected at the September 21 meeting. To view agendas and budget materials, visit: www.portlandmaine.gov/agendas.

New Link for Permitting & Inspections and Planning & Urban Development Self-Service Portal (CSS)

Due to a recent software upgrade, our Citizen Self-Service portal for Permitting & Inspections and Planning and Urban Development activity has a new web address. We encourage you to update any bookmarks or favorites you may have if you are a frequent user of this site.

CREATIVEPORTLAND Installs Art in Bus Shelters
Last year, National Endowment for the Arts Acting Chairman Mary Anne Carter announced 57 awards totaling $4.1 million supporting projects across the nation through the Arts Endowment’s Our Town 2019 program. Creative Portland, the City of Portland’s designated arts agency, was one of the recommended organizations for a matching grant of $25,000 to support Phase 1 of a creative placemaking initiative to design artistic bus shelters celebrating the City of Portland, Maine’s racially diverse communities, including immigrant and refugee populations. Two out of the three shelters are created by immigrant artists.

Council Limits Rental Housing Application Fees
The Portland City Council approved a limitation on rental housing application fees during its August 3, 2020 meeting, which will be added to the City’s Code, Chapter 6, Buildings and Building Regulations, Section 223.1. The new ordinance prohibits landlords from advertising, accepting applications, and collecting application fees for a rental unit unless that unit is available or will become available in a reasonable time frame, although the landlord and applicant can mutually agree to put the applicant on a waiting list. When advertising rental units and accepting applications, landlords must disclose up front 1) the criteria that will be used to screen applications, and 2) the cost of the background screening. This item was passed as an emergency and is currently in effect. 

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