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Fees, fueling center hearings at council July 17

From previous reporting

The Keizer City Council will have its hands full with four public hearings at its meeting Monday, July 17. Two of them could impact every resident in the city.

Topping the list are hearings on ordinances to establish public safety and parks services fees.

The council will take testimony on a proposed $4 fee to create a dedicated parks fund and an additional $4 fee to create a dedicated police fund.

In May, city councilors directed staff to draft an ordinance to include at least the following: a $4 fee per month assessed to both residential and commercial customers with no increases for one year; an $8 cap on future increases; a reporting requirement for the Keizer parks and public works staff; and available discounts for seniors and low-income residents along with the stipulation that no one will have their water cut off due to not paying the fee.

The idea met with some consternation on the part of council. Some councilors would rather see the city put the fee on a ballot or police services placed ahead of parks needs, others felt the need was imperative and action needed to be taken.

Councilors Kim Freeman, Roland Herrera and Bruce Anderson voted for drafting the ordinance, but wavered on support of the path the council was taking.

“I will support moving forward to draft an (ordinance), but that doesn’t mean I am supportive of the (ordinance),” Anderson said.

Mayor Cathy Clark was the most vocal supporter, while Laura Reid hadn’t appeared to have made a decision. Councilor Marlene Parsons was absent at the May meeting.

The fee would result in about $600,000 in additional funding for parks.

In June, councilors directed city staff to draft the ordinance regarding a public safety fee. During the meeting, Keizer cops got glowing reviews from both residents and councilors and many of the same issues that appeared to cause anxiety regarding the parks were not even broached.

The $4 fee would be charged to each commercial and residential utility customers in Keizer. If the fee proceeds at that amount, the city would collect about $630,000. The fee would pay for the addition of five new officers: two officers would be added to the night patrol shifts, and one officer each would be added to the Community Response Unit, the detective unit and the traffic unit.

The council will also hold a public hearing on development code changes that would allow a fueling center to be constructed in the Safeway parking lot at the corner of Chemawa Road and River Road.

Safeway approached the city earlier this year with a request to amend city code to allow for a fueling center. The Keizer Planning Commission approved a change in the code, but did not include a site for associated convenience sales that Safeway reps advocated said was “necessary part” of the fueling center.

Keizer Fire District is opposing the change citing the increase in traffic to the shopping center directly across from the fire station.

Lastly, the council will take testimony on a proposed amendment to the Keizer Station Area B Master Plan. Approval would change the size of the allowable buildings from two roughly equally-sized buildings to one larger building and one smaller building. The change is being requested to foster the development of a movie theater in the area across from the Salem-Keizer Transit Center on Keizer Station Boulevard Northeast.

Anyone wishing to comment may do so in person at the meeting or submit written response to City Recorder Tracy Davis no later than 5 p.m. July 17. Responses can be delivered to the Keizer Civic Center or mailed to Tracy Davis, City Recorder, P.O. Box 21000, Keizer, OR 97307.