By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The Keizer Fire Board unanimously approved sending a 59-cent per $1,000 valuation local option levy to Keizer voters in November at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 20.
The levy is an increase from the 35-cent rate that will expire this year.
“If the current levy expires without a replacement, the district will immediately be put into the red,” said Keizer Fire Chief Jeff Cowan. “Renewing the levy at the current rate would require layoffs next year to balance the budget. The 59-cent rate makes the district solvent for the next five years.”
In advance of the decision, district officials convened a citizen advisory committee that looked at the numbers and recommended moving forward with the 59-cent rate. Polling conducted in June signaled support from Keizer voters.
“The numbers are pretty telling,” said director Joe Van Meter. “It’s important for the district to be on site quickly in the event of medical emergencies and before property is decimated. This levy will allow us to continue to do that.”
Board President Greg Ego said he supported sending the decision to voters, citing the support of the citizen advisory committee and the polling number, and because “a yes vote ensures that KFD will have the manpower to be at my emergency in six minutes. Emergency service is one of those things that is out-of-sight-out-of-mind until something happens and that six-minute response time is not something I want to go backward on.”
Director Ron Christopher cited public safety as the No. 1 issue for many residents and supported sending the ballot to voters.
“$118 a year (per household) to respond in six minutes is money well-spent,” Christopher said.
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