By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Marion County Fire District 1 offered a compromise to the City of Keizer and Keizer Fire District earlier this week, in hopes of avoiding an election deciding which fire agency will serve the Clear Lake neighborhood.
The proposal would essentially reset the status of ambulance service in north Keizer – a move that purportedly sparked KFD’s move to annex homes in that area. Both agencies have admitted to spending nearly $100,000 each on various legal challenges and responses thus far.
“I would dare say we’re both going to be in it for that much more at least,” said board president Randy Franke at a meeting Wednesday, December 14. “I don’t think any of our taxpayers think that’s a good expense.”
The MCFD board offered Wednesday to conditionally reinstate an ambulance service agreement that would designate Keizer Fire District as the primary medic responder. The move by MCFD to end that agreement would in theory send an estimated $75,000 per year in ambulance revenue back to Keizer Fire District. The board also said it would drop the lawsuits and state land use actions filed against KFD and the City of Keizer. However, the board signaled it would not go so far as to move its medic out of the Clear Lake station entirely, with a key caveat in the motion that the arrangement not degrade service in the Clear Lake area.
Said reinstatement would hinge on both the city and Keizer Fire dropping any annexation attempts.
While the city has been named in the legal documents, the Keizer Fire District board has agreed to pay any legal costs incurred by the city due to the annexation.
The framework was credited to an editorial by Keizertimes Publisher Lyndon Zaitz. The editorial was mentioned several times during the discussion.
“I’d be willing to go so far as to say we’ll guarantee you, if that’s the right number … that $75,000,” Franke said. “I don’t think that means we have to take Medic 33 out of Clear Lake.”
MCFD Chief J. Kevin Henson expressed some reservations, saying the move could result in less ambulance protection for the Clear Lake area. He suggested he’d be open to a variety of arrangements, including placing a Keizer Fire ambulance in MCFD’s station at Clear Lake.
“I wouldn’t want the residents of Clear Lake to think we backed away from them and reduced the service level,” Franke added.