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Residents question street light district assessment

Residents of Benevan Court testified before the Keizer City Council last week that they felt a street light assessment on their property taxes was unfair since there are no lights on their street. They asked to either be removed, or that other nearby homes be added.

Of the Keizertimes

Some residents on Benevan Court in Keizer weren’t thrilled when the city proposed a lighting district for their street.

Their primary beef? There aren’t any lights on Benevan Court. [MAP: 1]

The street is tiny, only about 300 feet long with five homes. The lights are actually on Harmony Drive, and some street residents felt they were getting shortchanged or paying for lights benefiting others as well.

Street lighting districts are created when a subdivision or partiion is built. The developer is required to create the district, and an engineer certifies how much installation and maintenance would cost. Once the lots sell and houses are built on them, residents pay back the city for the infrastructure plus electricity for running the lights.

At last week’s Keizer City Council meeting, several said they wouldn’t benefit from the lights.

“It doesn’t even come close to our house,” said Cheryl Johnson.

Her husband, Mark, said they “weren’t opposed to paying their fair share, but the issue is we feel the parcels aren’t the only beneficiaries of the lights. We’re down at the end of that and we don’t even really get the light.”

Wade Buckmaster, who also lives on the street, doesn’t particularly mind that the street lights don’t reach his house, saying he enjoys watching the night sky with his daughter.

“If we want lights on in our subdivision, we have to turn the front lights in our garage on,” he said. “… It’s not really benefiting our property.”

Councilors postponed the matter until June 21 after Public Works Director Rob Kissler said he wanted to find out more information.

Lights were installed for the area, said City Attorney Shannon Johnson, but for reasons yet unknown the developer didn’t form a street lighting district and the matter “slipped through the cracks” at the city.

It appears Portland General Electric has been footing the electricity bill, Kissler added.

“PGE has been asking for a collection of the bill, which raised this issue,” Kissler said Monday night. He added on Tuesday that he “tends to agree” with testifiers saying the assessment as written was unfair.