By MATTHEW CHAPPELL
It has been said that hindsight is always better. Who could have ever known that we would be faced with difficult decisions resulting from a sudden downturn of our economy? But in all fairness I recall hearing warnings about excess spending and unmanageable growth. Somewhere in all of this we have attempted to guild over the top of an over inflated bottom line. The truth is that we took great risk with money that may not have been there tomorrow.
Here in Keizer we are faced with some tough decisions in the future. We have part of Keizer Station which is in default, we also have both the Clear Lake annexation and the Urban Growth Boundary issues as well.
Regarding Keizer Station, we know now that we took a risk that at the time may not have been fully understood. It came right before a time of economic downturn, when warnings and caution towards unsustainable spending on a national level were already in place, warnings which were being voiced by the Fed itself. The motivation for Keizer Station was centered on the hopes of continued, and what turned out to be, short term rapid economic growth. Its creation was put forward in hopes of asserting a greater level of independence and self sufficiency, accompanied by an aim to move Keizer away from being a bedroom community to an identity of its own. It was at this point that the economy changed and our sustainability began to leave us. For a limited government with a limited budget, we went on a spending spree as we took great risk investing in property development that has and continues to have lost substantial value. The worst part is by having created more jobs, in the event of a recession we actually make things worse when following the same old policies of the past.
Next comes the Clear Lake issue. By seeking further expansion we have hoped to make up in part for the unexpected losses in the overall economy. Then comes the Keizer Station default situation. This fundamentally offsets and furthermore creates an added burden of sustainability against the gains that we otherwise supposed to begin with. On top of all of this, at least for the short term we may be seeing the beginning of a trend in our economy.
This brings us back to the Clear Lake dilemma. We would now have the added responsibility of management with an ever-decreasing budget. We also have the pressure of bringing Clear Lake up to the equality of standards associated throughout Keizer, creating even more of an economic impact. Our overall losses outweigh our gains at this point. By guaranteeing services to additional areas, we take much needed services away from the greater population at large. We create a greater level of need and dependency as well.
The main incentive behind the unexpected growth in Keizer has been, among other things, due to its livability. Originally its low property tax base has corresponded to its “bedroom community” status. We cannot expect this advantage to remain. It is also supposed at this time that any future excess expansion would be a liability to property values, and with an already limited government the values will not be able to keep pace with the appreciation of our debt obligations. This would create the need for a higher tax base. Also, the forecast for property values and a continued change in our economy leaves us very limited at this time.
This finally brings us to the Urban Growth Boundary issue. By seeking the rapid expansion of the past and adding further responsibility, we would further delude the overall market value of Keizer’s net worth. We essentially would create more of a liability at this time. Commitments would further tie us into unsustainable spending which may jeopardize the ability to meet the needs of our more settled and innate self worth. In my opinion, by splitting the boundary with Salem we would cut ourselves off from the vitality of the region at large. This would cause pressure on our central and core values, creating further recession in the process.
The good news is that by making adjustments to our major policy initiatives, we may be able to stabilize our expenses per capita and relieve pressure towards our debt obligations as well. Some say that we need to expand, on the other hand, given over inflation it makes sense to bring down pressure while preventing over-elasticity which speeds up recessions. Let us not continue to over-extend ourselves any further, the time for change is now.
Matthew Chappell lives in Keizer.