By BILL QUINN
If you watched the last Keizer city council meeting you must be as curious as I.
The topic of extending the Urban Renewal District took up most of the time. I believe the renewal district should be extended to give the city some needed breathing room. The city is in a predicament that was not foreseen when Keizer Station was conceived. The city has debt because a developer has not paid his Local Improvement District (LID) bills. The city will eventually recover the delinquent money but it will take time. Unfortunately, there are very bad times ahead for the city. It was stunning when Mayor Lore Christopher kept the public hearing open. Why the delay? Does the city not have necessary support from the other taxing districts? The other districts have had plenty of time to examine the extension and have had official meetings. They must want better terms.
Let’s get something straight. When an Urban Renewal District is formed, local taxing districts suffer the loss of income. In Keizer, this means the Keizer Fire District, Marion County Fire District One, Chemeketa Community College, Marion County, and the Transit District. In theory, the taxing districts will receive more revenue when the Renewal District goes away because of greater property values. Unfortunately, that is in the future and revenue is needed in the present. The loud cheerleaders for Urban Renewal say your tax bill is the same with or without Urban Renewal and they are correct. They love to use other people’s money. They also conveniently fail to mention that we all receive less service from the other taxing districts as their lost revenue is used by the city for both city improvements and for city personnel and material expenses. In order to provide needed services those taxing districts have to ask us for more money.
Another topic discussed during the last council meeting was whether to close River Road from Lockhaven Drive to Plymouth Drive to all traffic from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, for a fun run and a holiday parade. Luckily, only Mayor Christopher, Mark Caillier and Joe Egli thought it was a great idea. They voted in favor of the extended closure in spite of the fact that several River Road merchants attended the council meeting and said it would be really bad for business. The original plan for a parade closure was for 6:30 to 9 p.m. The merchants indicated they could live with that closure but four hours was too much. It appears the Chamber of Commerce and the fun run sponsors tried to do an end run around the parade sponsors who did not favor the run this year because of insurance consideration. I don’t know why the Chamber and those councilors who voted for the extended closure wanted to hurt River Road businesses in this economy. What were they thinking? I hope they tell us someday!
Bill Quinn lives in Keizer.