By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Councilors repealed on Tuesday, Jan. 18, the telecom ordinance that would have taxed cell phones to the tune of about 3 percent.

Mayor Lore Christopher indicated the repeal is the first step in determining the level of service the public seeks out of the Keizer Police Department, which the telecom fee was designed to help fund, along with rising 911 costs.

She mentioned the possibility of bringing it forward again, but as an amendment to the city charter that would dedicate the funds to police and 911.

Jerry McGee, who was to lead a political action committee supporting the fee, said he hopes the city finds a “better source of revenue that will sustain the safety of the city. … But we don’t think you can.

“If you come to that conclusion – that a telecommunications fee is still the fairest approach – we hope you’ll put it to a vote  of the people at a general election in November,” and pursue it as a charter amendment, McGee said.

Richard Kosesan, a Verizon Wireless representative, said it could be “problematic” if the council chose to pursue it again, but supports its repeal.

Councilor Mark Caillier, who had supported the ordinance, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

The repeal comes on the heels of a public spat-and-make-up between Christopher and Councilor David McKane, who was the only vote against the telecom fee. He tendered his resignation after Christopher scolded him in an e-mail for not voting for the fee after it became clear he was the lone opponent on the council, and his no vote meant a second reading and vote on the ordinance was required.

Christopher later apologized, McKane rescinded his resignation and councilors opted to take a step back on the telecom fee.

The council also voted to spend about $5,130 on fencing and landscaping at Keizer Rapids Park for sound mitigation from the park’s amphitheater. Concerts there were popular, but irritated neighbors who said sound interfered with their quality of life.

“We believe this might be a first good step,” said Public Works Director Rob Kissler, “There’s no guarantees.”

A sound study conducted by Cascade Sound showed readings of 88.3 average decibels at a July 2010 rock concert. Readings at a residence on 15th Street the same day showed readings of 64dB and another 68.6 dB, both of which are above the ordinance limit of 55 dB.

A city report penned by Kevin Watson stated stopping bass sounds would be more difficult, but the proposed remedies could impede high-sound issues.

“The only thing you can do is turn it down,” Watson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We received a general formula. The sound engineer said if you have it at this level, it should dissipate by the time it gets to the property line with the residents.”

New Councilor Joe Egli voted against the mitigations, saying he was “concerned this isn’t going to solve the problem” and could be a target for vandalism.

In other business, the council:

• Opted to spend a total of $52,200 – including $38,500 from the general fund – for a new e-mail server, employee training and increased janitorial service.

• Approved an engineer’s report for a Sieburg Street local improvement district.