The deadline to place the question of annexing the Clear Lake area on the March ballot is fast approaching. Both sides, Keizer Fire District and Marion County Fire District #1, have a scant few days to come to an agreement that would make an election a moot point.
The annexation issue was front and center at the Dec. 19 city council meeting. Officials from both fire districts were exhorted by several councilors to come to an agreement.
The council, by 6-1, voted to place the annexation question on the ballot in March; the Keizer Fire District board also voted to place their own ballot question. These moves were made in part by the desire to let the people decide.
The electorate is unpredictable; we could end up with a bigger mess. What happens if it passes but the courts rule the whole election question void? What is the plan then?
We renew our call for the the ambulance agreement to be reinstated and putting a moratorium on any annexation movement for five years. With the ASA agreement back in place Keizer Fire District would get the $75,000 a year in revenue it lost. The deadline to place the issue on the March ballot is January 12; that is enough time for the two boards to sit down together, hash out their issues and do what is best for the community.
Some say it is that future viability of Marion County Fire District #1 and its tax base that leads them to believe that annexing Clear Lake now is a the best course for the Keizer and for Keizer Fire District.
The debate has grown so vitriolic that some players won’t even talk to each other. That is no way to run government. If there is no agreement between the two fire districts and the issue goes to the ballot, they may find that voters will say no simply because they are fed up with the fighting.
There are larger issues the city and its citizens will face in the coming years. In the end the fight between the two fire districts is parochial and Keizer residents who live outside the Clear Lake area may not deem the annexation issue at all important. In the new year Keizer residents will hear about ever tightening city budgets; they will hear about bond payments for a Local Improvement District at Keizer Station; they will hear about development at Area C which could include a Walmart.
Annexation of Clear Lake into Keizer Fire District needs to be put on hold. There are other issues that need our resources and attention.