By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Initial results for the Keizer Fire District’s proposed new five-year levy show the measure passing.
Results released shortly after 8 p.m. by the Marion County Clerks Office showed 58.54 percent (2,924 voters) approving the levy, compared to 41.46 percent (2,071 voters) against.
A total of 4,995 ballots had been counted of 17,020 registered voters, meaning a turnout of a little more than 29 percent. Eleven of 12 precincts had been counted.
“We’re delighted by the results and the positive response we’ve had from the Keizer community,” Keizer fire chief Jeff Cowan said. “We asked for what we needed and the community responded. We take it as an endorsement that the community believes in the work we’re doing. Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
Measure 24-353 will extend the current five-year tax levy with a new five-year levy at an increased rate. The current rate of $.35 per $1,000 of assessed value will rise to $.59 per $1,000 of assessed value.
The tax revenue will maintain the present level of service and provide full-time staffing for a second ambulance, as well as paying for the cost of the KFD’s 9-1-1 dispatch services.
Two rounds of results were expected to be released Tuesday night. Bill Burgess, Marion County clerk, said Tuesday afternoon he wasn’t expecting another update for a couple of weeks. Results will be certified by Nov. 25.
Tuesday’s election was the first since a 24-hour ballot drop box was installed in the parking lot at Keizer Civic Center.
“The 24-hour curbside Keizer ballot box is receiving about seven ballots for each ballot dropped inside city hall,” Burgess said.
As of early Tuesday afternoon there had been 1,435 ballots dropped off in the curbside box, compared to 215 inside city hall. Another 625 ballots had been dropped off at the US Bank at 5110 River Road N.
Four levy options were considered earlier this year: not renewing the levy, keeping it at the $.35 per $1,000 rate, increasing it to $.49 per $1,000 or increasing it to $.59 per $1,000. Polling conducted during the spring showed about 70 percent approval of the last option, leading the Keizer Fire Board to put the levy on the ballot.
Even with that, Greg Ego, president of the Keizer Fire District Board of Directors, wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“There is always some angst before an election,” Ego said. “Dollars are not plentiful. We talked to everyone we could. We are so appreciative people are willing to make sacrifices.”