Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: July 6, 2010

Compost pickup will be biweekly

The Keizer City Council opted not to have weekly food waste pickup Monday night.
However, bi-weekly pickup of food waste – in the green can along with yard debris – will begin in September.
See Friday’s Keizertimes for more.

School board formally adopts budget

By HERB SWETT
Of the Keizertimes

Salem-Keizer Public Schools formally adopted a budget for 2010-11 school year. State law requires the district to adopt a budget before June 30 each year regardless if funding is known or available.

The adopted budget was based on funding estimates available in early spring. But late last month, the State of Oregon released a new estimate that included significant shortfall in funding for public schools.

What this means to the Salem-Keizer district is a $24 million shortfall for the coming school year. There is no word if additional funding from the federal government will be made available this year.

“Twenty-four million is a significant amount, and finding a budget solution is not going to be quick and easy,” stated a district release. “With the help of district staff, parents, the public, the Citizens’ Budget Committee and the school board, we will all work together to address the needs.”

Work will begin during the summer and continue into next school year. There are indications that the state economy will not recover fully for several more years.

In addition, the district is developing proposals to bring forward to the board at its Tuesday,  July 20, meeting.

What recovery? Unemployment grows to 10.8 percent

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The month of May was not so merry for job growth.

The Salem area’s jobless rate rose to 10.8 percent, up from 10.4 percent in April. The rates are seasonally adjusted.

It was higher than the statewide seasonally adjusted rate of 10.6 percent. Still, the local unemployment rate is about half a percentage point lower than it was in May 2007.

Statistics are for the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Keizer.

Some 20,250 Marion and Polk county residents were unemployed in a labor force of 177,269. According to Worksource Oregon statistics, some 834 less people were unemployed last month than in May 2009.

From April to May, the private sector added 600 jobs while government added 1,100 jobs, although “much of May’s job growth was the result of unemployment related to the 2010 U.S. Census,” said Patrick O’Connor, a Worksource Oregon regional economist. “They’re going to show up one month and disappear.”

In key sectors:

• Construction added 200 jobs, and the industry has dropped about 500 jobs in the past month.

• Manufacturing added 200 jobs.

• Professional and business services was unchanged, but has grown by 100 positions in the past year. O’Connor said growth in this industry is “a sign the local economy is slowly starting to move in a positive direction.”

• Retail trade added 100 jobs, but the sector has lost 600 jobs.

While O’Connor continues to be encouraged by the growth in professional and business services – which includes temp agencies – and that job loss has slowed, he warns that jobless rates “remain quite high and higher-than-normal unemployment rates will likely persist throughout 2010.”

Mayor to seek sixth term

Mayor Lore Christopher announced last week she’ll seek a sixth term.

Already Keizer’s longest-serving mayor – and its first woman in the top job – Christopher announced on Facebook and in the McNary Estates newsletter last week she would seek the post again.

“I had fully intended this to be my final year in office,” Christopher wrote, but she said she was seeking re-election to complete three projects she had said  would influence whether she would run again.

file photo

Describing 2009 as a year where projects stagnated due to a lousy economy, she said a resolution to Keizer’s shared urban growth boundary with Salem – and, along with it, the city’s prospects for outward growth – needed to happen “to accommodate our desire to control our own destiny and determine if and where we want to expand our urban growth boundary.”

In particular, she wants to see the beginnings of a corporate business park “to accommodate business opportunities.”

She also wants to bring a doctor’s clinic, which she said could “improve access to medical care and urgent care facilities as well as provide local high-wage jobs.”

Christopher also said she wants to see the urban renewal district end, which would return some funds back to the Keizer Fire District as well as other government agencies.

Whether she will run unopposed remains to be seen. Dave Bauer, a longtime Keizer Fire District volunteer whose family aided in the city’s founding in 1982, is mulling a run for the top office, but as of press time had yet to make a decision.

Meanwhile, three city councilors – Richard Walsh, Jim Taylor and Cathy Clark – are all up for re-election. All have said they will run again.

Two non-incumbents, Neil Madison and Gary Blake, picked up petitions to run for office. Blake told the Keizertimes he was not running this year, citing work obligations.

As for Madison, he’s a 20-year Keizerite who said he’s “afraid for the small businesses” in town.

“I don’t want to see Keizer grow as big as it has,” he said, lamenting that a larger population could push smaller businesses aside.

“I’ve dealt with several people along River Road,  and I see them, on occasion, and they have a look in their eye of most people now with the economy – Will they bring in a big-box and put me out of business?” Madkson said.

He’s a member of John Knox Presbyterian Church and was involved in raising funds for flood relief in 1996. He currently does consulting work for a Salem used car dealer.

Madison has yet to decide which seat he would seek.

“I don’t have a problem with anyone, really, on the city council,” he said. “I just want to make sure people like me have been complaining know, Neil’s on council and he’s going to make sure things are done in the right way so we can all prosper and thrive.”