By RANDY FRANKE
In the Friday December 9th Keizertimes the editor stated the following; “The best solution is for the districts to reinstate the ambulance agreement that allows Keizer Fire District to collect the $75,000 it lost when the agreement was abandoned. Then the two districts should agree to a moratorium on the annexation issue for five years, allowing for in depth discussions on the future of both districts.”
Personally and as president of Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD) I agree and I am willing to encourage other board members to also concur. The question is how we get all three parties (Keizer Fire District, MCFD and City of Keizer) to agree to step back from the precipice, rescind all actions taken to date and enter into a serious discussion on what is “in the best interests” of Keizer and how to best serve all the residents of Keizer now and into the future.
It would be a great Christmas present to our tax payers if all three governing bodies (KFD, MCFD, and City of Keizer) embraced the Keizertimes’ suggested solution. I will recommend to the Marion County Fire District #1 Board of Directors that they endorse and support that proposal at our next board meeting on Wednesday Dec. 14.
Time is obviously of the essence. The Keizer City Council will need to make a decision at the Dec. 19 meeting whether or not to spend more money on another election attempt (roughly another $25,000 of taxpayer money). So what needs to happen for this possible solution to become a reality? Someone needs to take the first step. It would be wonderful if come Monday, Dec.19, both fire districts Boards had acted positively on the suggestion. Then the city council could rescind their actions on the withdrawal and annexations. Once the City has withdrawn their actions MCFD would withdraw our legal challenges because there would be nothing to challenge. Once the City repeals its withdrawal ordinance, MCFD could then reinstate the ASA agreement allowing the Keizer Fire District to respond to medical calls in the Clear Lake area of MCFD’s territory.
Given the bad feelings and distrust that this process has created to date, it is important for the City of Keizer to participate in the ongoing discussions; possibly one or two councilors. Here is a radical idea – let’s make these discussion more public (transparent) and involve some citizens in the process as well. They could be former councilors or whomever. Maybe someone who has a stake in the outcome and understands some of the issues, say some citizens from the various homeowners associations in Clear Lake and/or the rest of Keizer. I do not think we want the “group” to get so big that it is unwieldy but bringing the City and public into this important discussion could reap big dividends.
Our taxpayers deserve no less. Let’s start figuring out how the two fire districts can work better together for the best interests of all Keizer residents; to maximize revenue and minimize expenses in order to provide for the most cost effective service possible for the citizens that both fire districts serve.
Randy Franke is president of the board of Marion County Fire District #1.