On Page One of this week’s Keizertimes Jason Cox and Eric Howald explain the basics of the Clear Lake annexation issue that voters will find on a ballot hitting their homes soon.
We have previously called for the need to alter intergovernmental agreements that have outlived their purpose. One of those agreements we cited last year was fire coverage in the Clear Lake. At that time we said that Keizer Fire District should annex that area and put all of Keizer under one service.
We have not changed our view despite the way the entire process has been muddled by nastiness, cross-accusations and recriminations from the beginning. That’s why we called for a five-year moratorium on the process earlier this year. That suggestion is moot now that the annexation question is going to the voters.
The election, now in the hands of city of Keizer and Keizer Fire District voters will decide the fate of fire and medical emergency coverage in Clear Lake. The election is about more than just Clear Lake.
Voters should say yes to both Measure 24-325 and Measure 24-326 for three good reasons: response times, tax savings and future growth of Keizer.
In a medical emergency, every minute counts. Annexing Clear Lake will allow Keizer Fire to staff and operate two 24-hour medic units, one in Station 6 on Wheatland Road and one at the Chemawa Road station; that will mean quick response times for all of Keizer, and that’s what citizens expect from their fire district.
Marion County Fire District receives about $500,000 a year in taxes from the homes in their service area in Clear Lake. With its lower tax rate Keizer Fire would collect about $350,000. It’s a good thing anytime taxes can be reduced without lowering levels of service. With annexation Clear Lake homeowners will see a reduction of their taxes by an average of $90 per year; however, Keizer homeowners outside of Clear Lake will not see their tax rate change. All Keizer voters will benefit from the approximately $350,000 in new tax revenues because all of it will be used inside Keizer.
Keizer’s future growth will have nowhere to go but north. If the Urban Growth Boundary is expanded northward it’s almost certain the city limits will follow. We’ve always said that the future belongs to those who plan for it.
We must not only think of what annexing Clear Lake today means but how it will fit into future expansion. Keizer city limits may one day stretch up towards Perkins Lane or Quinaby Road. It doesn’t make sense to have a 1,000 home enclave of Marion County Fire District surrounded by the city of Keizer.
Voting yes on Measures 24-325 and 24-326 will improve emergency response times for Keizer homes and offer tax savings to Clear Lake homeowners. Just as important this election can be seen as the first step in the growth of Keizer.