Longtime local benefactors Bob and Pam Zielinski were honored as Keizer’s First Citizens at a banquet Saturday night.
Also recognized were:
– Audrey Butler, Mary Kay, Merchant of the Year
– Kim Phillips, McNary High swim coach, Service to Education Award
– Al and Anne Rasmus, Keizer Heritage Center, President’s Award
The Keizer Chamber of Commerce gives out the awards at its annual banquet.
By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
When Keizer voters receive the Voter’s Pamphlet leading up a March ballot measure asking for their support of Keizer Fire District’s annexation of the Clear Lake area in northern part of the city, it’s likely they’ll notice a disparity.
The pamphlet will include the ballot title, an explanatory statement for the measure, four arguments against the measure and none in favor of its passage.
“We’re on the ballot March 13 and will move forward from this point based on the strength of the arguments we’ve been making for nearly a year,” said Chief Jeff Cowan, of Keizer Fire District.
Cowan convened an executive session of the Keizer Fire Board Monday, Jan. 23, to discuss the development.
Keizer Fire officials and their attorney, Bob Blackmore, planned to submit statements in favor of the annexation measure simultaneously with the ballot title and explanatory statement. However, when judicial approvals of the title and explanatory statement overran the deadline for submitting to the voter’s pamphlet, January 17, elections officials declined to accept the statements in support of the measure.
“We’ve had lots of deadlines to meet in regard to this issue and this was one we should have had given more prominence,” Blackmore said.
In addition to meeting ballot issue deadlines, Keizer Fire District attorneys have been fending off litigation and appeals filed by Marion County Fire District attempting to halt the annexation process.
What’s at stake for both KFD and MCFD is the property taxes collected on the properties within the disputed area, estimated to be between $350,000 and $450,000 depending on which agency is assessing its individual bonds and levies.
Cowan said some of the blowback was expected, but the purpose behind the fire district’s pursuit of the Clear Lake neighborhoods remains unchanged.
“Our cause is still noble,” Cowan said. “This is about providing the best service possible for all the residents of Keizer.”
Keizer Fire Board President Joe Van Meter spoke more directly to the issue of taxes.
“This measure will keep taxpayer dollars in Keizer to pay for Keizer services – and not send that money to MCFD1 to fund services outside of Keizer,” Van Meter said.
Asked whether the district was risking loss political capital in pursuit of the Clearlake issue, Van Meter said, “As far as I know, Keizer Fire District’s reputation is still intact. We receive letters thanking us for our service on a monthly basis and we have response times that are the envy of most other fire districts and departments in the state.”
Van Meter said the Friends of Keizer Fire District, which will be conducting the campaign in support of the annexation measure, hopes letters to the editor and yard signs that will make up for the lack of a presence in the voter’s pamphlet.