By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
You could take away two things from last month’s budget committee meetings, where each year outside groups ask for their slice of Keizer’s general fund pie: It’s a great time to run a parade, not so much to have an art gala – even if it is named after the mayor.
The Keizer City Council will vote this coming Monday on the budget, which includes employee raises.
It’s not a bad time to work for the city, either: Employees will get cost of living adjustments and step increases will be unfrozen for the first time in several years. Police officers with 10 or more years of tenure may be eligible for an additional 2.5 percent, which will place them more in line with comparable positions in other communities, said Keizer Police Capt. Jeff Kuhns.
City Manager Chris Eppley noted in budget presentations last month that Keizer has 3.17 employees per 1,000 residents, while other cities close to the same size have eight.
“We do what we do with significantly fewer employees than most cities,” he said. “… We’re pretty proud of that.”
Kurt Barker, president of Keizer Youth Sports Association, had asked for some $30,000 in assistance from the city to continue operating the public Little League Park.
The group got $1,500 and a promise to discuss ongoing funding issues with the park.
City Councilor Jim Taylor said he hated to set a precedent for paying for maintenance, but would support capital improvements to the park.
Other groups receiving funding included:
• Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, which provides before and afterschool programs at the two middle schools in town, received an additional $1,000 more than the budgeted $4,000. Activities include leadership, recreation, hobby and sport-based activities. They also serve supper to students through a federal program.
• The Good Vibrations motorcycle rally may have returned to Salem in 2011, but their official hotel is in Keizer and there will again be a parade of bikes through town when the event is held in July.
That was good enough for the budget committee, which allocated $3,000 in cash to event organizer Road Shows Inc. The Keizer Civic Center will also host a free breakfast for participating bikers. City Manager Chris Eppley said the money will be paid back to the city for police services during the parade.
• The Festival of Lights parade returns to Keizer in 2012, and got $5,000 in an in-kind appropriation for two days’ use of the civic center and possible costs associated with the parade, but will pay the police department for its officers’ time.
• The Keizer Art Association was left out in the cold, not receiving any appropriation from the committee. The group said its request was for a new computer and to cover expenses from the Mayor’s Art Gala. Mayor Lore Christopher said in an email that she still supports art, but that the event doesn’t cost the association money, calling the request erroneous.
• The Keizer Chamber of Commerce received about $11,000 in funding, which included an informational kiosk at the civic center to promote tourism and visitors services, an online community calendar software, and $5,000 to pay for police services during the Iris Festival parade. The chamber will also get $3,000 to repair and replace the Christmas lights traditionally put up around town just after Thanksgiving.