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By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Sewer rates are going up for Keizer residents.

The first of two increases will be effective Jan. 1, 2015. The second increase goes into effect one year later.

Susan Gahlsdorf, Finance director for Keizer, noted the city has agreed to adopt Salem’s wastewater service charges. Keizer contracts with Salem for the treatment of Keizer’s water.

“On average, customers will see a 1.5 to 2 percent increase in their sewer charges effective for bills dated on or after Feb. 1, 2015 and a 2.5 to 3 percent increase on their sewer charges effective for bills dated on or after Feb. 1, 2016,” Gahlsdorf said at the Dec. 1 Keizer City Council meeting. “This equates to a $5 annual increase in 2015 and a $9.70 annual increase in 2016 for the average residential customer.”

Gahlsdorf said the 2015 rate increase reflects a 1 percent decrease in the surcharge Salem has imposed in the past.

“In 2009 Salem agreed to eliminate the 7.5 percent surcharge by 1.5 percent the first year and 1 percent each year thereafter until the surcharge was eliminated,” Gahlsdorf said. “Beginning in 2015, the surcharge will be 1 percent and it will be eliminated beginning in 2016.”

Gahlsdorf further noted the city’s administrative fee on the utility bill has been a bi-monthly charge of $4.85 since 2006. That fee will now be $5.95, which is expected to bring in $33,000 in additional revenue for the current 2014-15 fiscal year.

Councilors unanimously approved the rate change without comment.

In other business Dec. 1:

• Councilor Jim Taylor is leaving the council and will be out of town next week, so the Dec. 1 meeting was his last full council meeting. As such Mayor Lore Christopher – who is also stepping down – gave Taylor a chance to give a grand speech.

Taylor didn’t deliver.

City recorder Tracy Davis had made cookies in the shape of fish for councilors to enjoy, appropriate given Taylor’s love for fishing.

“I thank Tracy for these cookies,” Taylor said. “My work is done here.”

Christopher was rather surprised by the brevity of the speech.

“That’s it?” she asked incredulously.

“That’s it,” Taylor confirmed.

Taylor later indicated he’ll give more of a speech at the Jan. 5 council meeting, when he formally leaves the council after 12 years of service. That might be a good thing, since his abbreviated farewell was met by a well-natured comment of “pathetic” by one person on the dais.

• Contracts for City Manager Chris Eppley and City Attorney Shannon Johnson were unanimously approved during the consent calendar portion of the meeting, with no comment from councilors.

For both men, their contracts allow for one-year extensions by written notice each year. Evaluations and pay discussion take place in late spring.

With the extensions, the contracts for both Eppley and Johnson now run through June 30, 2016.

As mentioned previously in the Keizertimes, both men got a 2.5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase this year, as well as 3 percent merit raises for satisfactory performance reviews. That bumped Eppley’s annual compensation from $139,299.60 to $147,076.80 while Johnson got bumped from $126,360 to $133,390.44.