Most India Street clinic services remain under City control until June 2017. City Council approves $236 million budget.
The $236 million budget will result in a 2.3% combined property tax increase resulting in a mill rate of $21.10.The property tax increase is the lowest tax increase in five years, due in part to a $68 million growth in property valuation.
Despite the increase in revenue, the budget does include the eventual closure of the India Street public health clinic and transfer of its services to a nonprofit clinic. There will also be an overall reduction in the City workforce, but it is not clear if there will be layoffs.
The approved budget includes several amendments from Councilors related to the India Street clinic, which was slated to be closed completely and immediately.
Councilor Belinda Ray’s amendment keeps the needle exchange program, STD testing services, and the Portland Community Free Clinic operational at the health clinic located at 103 India Street. It will continue to be managed by the City’s Public Health Division through June 30th, 2017. Following that, it will operate at 103 India Street, but be managed by Portland Community Health Center (soon to be known as Greater Portland Health).
This means that the City will be supporting the transition of the Ryan White HIV services and programs to the Portland Community Health Center as of January 1st, 2017, affecting about 200 patients.
Councilor Justin Costa’s amendment requires that two Ryan White HIV patients from India Street, two patients from Portland CHC, and one community member appointed by the City Manager will be involved in the planning of the transition of services. Councilor Jill Duson’s amendment requires that the City Manager will provide briefings on the transition of services to the Council’s Health and Human Services Committee every two months.
Excerpted below are parts of Mayor Strimling’s budget passage speech:
“When we started this budget process, 2,500 patients would have lost their health center on December 31st. The needle exchange. The STD clinic. HIV testing. Positive health. The free clinic. All these programs were slated to be displaced, some with skeletal transition plans, others with an unclear fate. But the bottom line was that none would remain where they are today.
“After tonight, thanks to Councilor Ray’s amendment, India Street will not be closed and almost 2,300 of those patients will keep their health care center….
“The 200 patients that receive HIV treatment through Positive Health will have to move. And that is sad. I am as convinced as ever that these services did not need to be relocated. Indeed, our best path would have been to have PCHC [Portland Community Health Center] take over the grant, while keeping the services at India Street for as long as possible. But that position was not supported by others and subsequently Positive Health will move….
“And with Councilor Costa’s amendment to add patients and a community member to the transition team and Councilor Duson’s amendment that the transition team must report regularly to the health and human services committee, the structures are now in place to give us the best chance at getting this right.”