By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
No third meeting was necessary for the Keizer Budget Committee this year, as members got through the proposed 2016-17 budget in two nights.
Staying just a little bit late both nights, committee members approved the budget at the end of the May 5 meeting. The vote was 11-1, with Ron Bersin voting against due his frustration over not adding an additional police officer (see related story, page A1).
“Until we can support that, I’ll be a ‘no’ vote,” Bersin said.
The budget will be before the Keizer City Council on June 6 for approval. It must be approved by the end of June.
The proposed budget was for $38,063,700 total, or a 1 percent increase from last year’s budget of $37,664,300. The bulk of the increase comes from increased fees, including higher charges for water, stormwater and sewer.
There’s a potential more revenue could come by the end of the calendar year with recreational marijuana funds, which will be on the November ballot. Councilors have already called for the maximum 3 percent revenue to come to the city.
“The state treasurer said don’t expect it any time soon, at least not this next fiscal year,” city manager Chris Eppley said. “We may see some revenues since coming in quicker and higher than they anticipated. Our problem is we have no idea how to calculate it. The safest thing is to put in nothing, then we can come back later with a budget amendment if needed.”
The proposed budget includes $11.4 million for general fund, nearly $6 million for sewer, $4.3 million for Keizer Station Local Improvement District, $3.7 million for administrative services, $3.6 million for streets, $3.6 million for water, $2.7 million for transportation improvement and $1.4 million for park improvement.
Per usual, the biggest expense for the general fund is the Keizer Police Department, with total expenditures of nearly $6.5 million.
Budget committee members added in some budget requests. For example, mayor Cathy Clark pushed for the Keizer Points of Interest Committee (KPIC) getting $1,860 to do signage related to past floods in Keizer.
“KPIC was established by the city to do this kind of work,” Clark said. “They brought this to us at our request. They are doing the work we have asked them to do, so it is appropriate to fund this.”
A motion was approved to allocate $200 towards a possible new Southeast Keizer Neighborhood Association. The city currently has two neighborhood associations (in Gubser and West Keizer) but used to have more.
“I have heard from people who are serious about the establishment of a new neighborhood association,” Clark said. “I would like to set aside money for the costs incurred. They are learning from established neighborhood associations.”
Jerry McGee called the new neighborhood association a unique opportunity.
“We have had up to seven before,” he said. “They usually form over an issue, like a park. This is being organized for entirely different reasons. We do need to encourage it. The $200 would be a great encouragement. I know most of those people. As far as I know, they have no ax to grind.”
Clark’s attempt to increase funding for the Keizer Community Library by $1,000 to $8,400 was unsuccessful, but McGee’s attempt later to get $8,000 for the library was successful, as was a request to add $2,500 in funding (for a total of $3,500) for the Keizer Public Arts Commission.
Requests for funding were also approved for Keizer Peer Court ($10,500) and the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation ($6,000).