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Council’s fee votes violate city charter

To the Editor:

“The law is reason free from passion.”


The city council of Keizer has just voted to add a fee for the police and parks to our water /sewer bill. I am quite sure their actions in doing so are heartfelt and justified in their own minds. They are even considering changing the name of, Water and Sewer Fee to a more all encompassing title of City Services Bill.

In doing this, an illegal act occurs by adding a third party to our Water and Sewer Bills.

To do so legally requires amending the city charter (a contract between a governing body and its citizens), which was last done by public vote in November, 1993.

The Keizer City Charter has two specific sections: 36—“Special assessments for public improvements or other services to be charged against real property;” and, 43—“Water revenue use—All revenue, shall be used exclusively to pay for the water department fund expenses.”

The city charter is a contract between a city’s governing body and its citizens, and cannot be altered, nor added to, in any manner, without the consent of the governing body and the vote of its citizens which is the will of the people.

In all service agreement contracts, including the state of Oregon’s own contract, there is a ‘no third party beneficiaries clause’: “Nothing in this contract gives any benefit or right to third person (parties) unless such are identified and described as beneficiaries of this contract.”

The question to be asked by vote of the citizens is: “Do we need additional police services and parks and recreation personnel and how do we share the cost reasonably and legally among Keizer’s citizens?”

The law is clear—it cannot be done in the manner chosen. If this is allowed, we must consider what is to prevent the adding of streets and sidewalks, homeless shelters, drug treatment programs and all else from being added to our water and sewer bills?

The purpose behind the law of all parties involved in a contract is that one party cannot change or alter the  agreement.

Lynn B. DeSpain