Day: October 21, 2011

Because the money is needed

The City of Keizer has prided itself on running a low-service, low-tax rate town.  Delivering public services that continue to increase in cost without the opportunity to increase the tax rate is a situation that is not sustainable. The city’s current tax rate of $2.08 per $1,000 of assessed value has not kept up with the times, especially at the Keizer Police Department. That’s why residents will be asked to vote on Measure 24-324,  the Public Safety Communications Fee, in November’s election. The measure would add a $4.86 per month fee onto each residential and commercial unit in Keizer.  Thirty-nine percent of the additional $800,000 in revenue would be shared with the fire districts that serve Keizer.  The money is to offset the city’s and fire districts’ obligation to the Willamette Valley Communications Center (WVCC) which operates the 9-1-1 system. The fee would be added to the city’s utility billing statement which includes water, sewer and storm water fees.  It does not affect the rate for those utilities. The 9-1-1 system had been financed with a fee on telephone land lines which worked just fine in the past.  Technology has allowed many households to abandon their land lines and rely solely on cell phones.  Adding an additional 9-1-1 fee on cell phones was a non-starter. Also, prepaid phone cards are not levied a 9-1-1 of any kind (something the...

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Wealth shouldn’t run government

A Box of Soap By DON VOWELL Sometimes an Op-Ed angers you enough that you can’t not respond.  Charles Krauthammer recently condemned President Obama for fanning the flames of the “villainy-of-the-rich” sentiment growing in our nation. He was making the case that the President Obama hopes to cover his failures by shifting blame to the very rich.  That sounds plausible.  From there he postulates that this created the breeding ground that bore the Occupy Wall Street movement. His view of these “indignant indolents”  gets lyrical – “Starbuck’s-sipping, Levi’s-clad, iPhone-clutching protestors denounce corporate Americas even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over.” I can’t speak for any other protestor.  I have never had a Starbuck’s coffee, and don’t have Levi’s or an iPhone.  I’ll be 63 in January.  I would only denounce corporate America to the extent that they successfully buy legislation in their favor, which makes it rather a denunciation of Congress.  I feel bad for the family of any citizen who dies, but don’t admire anybody’s amassing of billions. If I were to mirror Krauthammer’s stereotypical vitriol I might believe that Messrs. Krauthammer, Will, and the other exalted conservative pundits are little else than vainglorious sourpusses – unable to see the problem because they are the problem.  They have all forgotten, or never experienced, struggle.   I was curious enough about what would...

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Is 911 really in jeopardy?

To the Editor: Signs and literature urging Keizer taxpayers to vote yes on a fee on their water bill for public safety are very misleading.  Campaign signs indicate 911 will go away if the fee is not collected.  Flyers being distributed make it sound like the bad economy is responsible for the difficulties paying for 911 in Keizer.  This is simply not true. What is true is that if this measure passes and another fee is collected on my water bill, both police and fire will hire additional staff.  Yes, more staff, more salaries, more benefits, and more public employee retirement system costs.  At a recent interview with the Statesman Journal Editorial Board the fire chief said he would hire three new employees and the police chief said he would hire four new employees with this additional money.  Do we really need more employees?  Can this growth be sustained? The bad economy has nothing to do with funding 911 in Keizer.  911 is paid for by taxes and fees already collected.  911 will not go away.  Your local government simply wants more of your money.  I am not anti-government or anti-tax.  I simply want my local government to live within their means.  I appreciate police and fire.  But times are difficult and I cannot afford another fee or tax.  Please provide the best services you can with your current...

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Public Safety Communications fee

To the Editor: Literature being distributed advocating Keizer taxpayers vote yes for another fee on their water bill for public safety found its way to my doorstep.  I certainly understand the passion of those who favor this new fee.  But I have to say I am disappointed in the misleading content of the literature. The flyer states the bad economy and high unemployment make it difficult to run 911 services.  911 services are run by the Willamette Valley Communications Center which is part of the City of Salem.  The bad economy and unemployment have little to do with funding 911 in Keizer.  911 in Keizer is paid for with the 911 excise tax on our telephones, both landline and cellular.  Those taxes do not cover the full cost of 911.  In Keizer other money, property tax revenues and franchise fees on our utility bills, are used to make up the difference.  According to current city budget documents, Keizer property tax revenue has increased more than $280,000 over the last four years while franchise fee collection is down about 1% or $29,000.  The flyer also states that a senior citizen or a child in trouble depends on 911 and for only $4.86 a month on your water bill you can ensure 911 is functioning.  911 in Keizer will continue to function with or without this new fee. I took the...

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Keizer is safe without new fee

To The Editor: We currently pay for fire and police through property tax assessments which we vote on through operating  levys. If the new tax on our water bill for the police and fire passes, we will lose control and reliability on our water and sewer bill because we will no longer get to vote on future increases  for this fee. Although the bill says  they will have a public hearing for increases,  when was the last time  you went to a public hearing? Public Hearings mean nothing anyway if a council has made up its mind what it is going to do. Remember the tax on cellphones?  The public testimony was overwhelmingly against the tax, yet the council went forward with it anyway. Picture the future.  Your water and sewer bill becomes your water, sewer, police and fire bill.  Now  you will pay police and fire monthly, And annually through property taxes.  Renters will most likely get a boost in their increased operating costs. Fire Chief Jeff Cowan makes an attempt to convince citizens to vote for the tax in the the September 2011 newsletter from Keizer Citizens for a Safe Neighborhood,  by stating “Keizer residents can help make sure boots are on the ground in time to keep our neighborhoods safe.”  Shame on him for attempting to frighten citizens into thinking that if this tax doesn’t pass,...

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