By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
A Keizer Chamber of Commerce request that city officials waive fees and other costs associated with the Holiday Lights Parade was snuffed out at the Keizer City Council meeting Monday, Nov. 21.
The Keizer Chamber requested waivers for fees totaling $5,805 related to police staffing, public works costs and temporary use permits among others, but councilors were not in a giving mood. One city councilor even expressed frustration at the asking.
“The chamber did come to council a month ago and we were honest about what we could waive and what we couldn’t. I’m a little disappointed that they came and asked for it anyway,” said Councilor Kim Freeman. “I think we all love this event, but we have a city to run and we have to be diligent with the money we have.”
Danielle Bethell, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, asked the city council to consider fee waivers at a previous meeting and, while no action was taken, councilors made it clear that waivers would be unlikely.
At the time, Mayor Cathy Clark said she wanted to hear from River Road North businesses about their success during the parade before dipping into city coffers in support of it.
At the meeting Monday, the biggest topic of discussion was a request to waive $4,000 for police staffing. Granting such a waiver would subtract from the city’s general fund which is already stretched thin, and even a $4,000 expense could create a shortfall down the line.
“I feel like that during the budget process in May would be the proper time to ask for a waiver like this. I will be a no vote on waiving anything,” said Councilor Amy Ryan.
The fees the Keizer Chamber was requesting waivers for generally fell into two categories hard costs and foregone revenues. In addition to the $4,000 for police staffing, there were another $1,300 in costs to the Keizer’s Public Works Department that would have to be absorbed. Other costs – $50 for an application fee and $275 in temporary use permits – would simply have resulted in less revenue.
Councilor Bruce Anderson said he was impressed with the Chamber’s discussions regarding the decision to take on the parade, and would have supported many of the fee waivers, but not the police staffing.
“The police staffing is a bridge too far, but I think looking at the other fee waivers are reasonable,” Anderson said.
In the end, the only waiver the Chamber left the meeting with was worth $180, which covers the costs of parade coverage on Keizer’s public access cable channel, Keizer 23. Keizer 23 funds are sourced outside the general fund.
The parade is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10.