By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The city’s budget planning kicked into high gear at the first meeting of the Keizer Budget Advisory Committee Tuesday, May 2.

The meeting largely consisted of reviewing the proposed budgets from each department with some limited discussion of each (for more on those discussions, check next week’s edition of the Keizertimes). The other major portion of the meeting was dedicated to public testimony for organizations requesting a portion of the Iris City’s fiscal pie.

In many cases, the requests had already been fulfilled in the proposed budget, but there were a few notable exceptions.

• The Keizer Chamber of Commerce requested $3,659 in direct financial support, but the current proposal only allocates $1,500. The organization also requested that Civic Center rental fee be waived for five nights during the year, a value of  $2,330.  That request is not fulfilled in the current proposed budget, but Tim Wood, Keizer finance director, said it could likely be accommodated with some blackout dates. The Chamber will benefit from roughly $9,000 in donated police and public works staff time around the Chamber’s two parades.

• The Keizer Community Library requested $9,936, but only $8,000 is currently allocated.

• The Keizer Peer Court requested $10,750 in support, but only $10,500 was allocated.

• There is also a slight discrepancy in requests from the city’s three neighborhood associations – a total request of $1,100 and a total allocation of $1,300 – but Wood said the balance would line up as the planning progresses.

Three requests were not included at all:

• A request for $5,000 to help fund a program coordinator position overseeing efforts to combat homelessness at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments.

• There is also an outstanding request for $8,000 from the Keizer Parks Foundation to cover costs associated with the event marking the eclipse in Keizer Rapids Park. The paperwork does not specify whether the group is looking for direct financial support or in-kind donation of services.

• Meredith Mooney, a board member of Keizer United, a non-profit group supported several local youth efforts is seeking $2,000 in financial support while the group looks for a new home for its annual fundraiser.

Requests from the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club of Salem, Polk and Marion Counties, totaling $8,000, were included in the proposed budget.

None of the allocations are set in stone and will not be until the city council approves the budget in June.

In addition to hearing from leaders of several organizations making requests, the committee also heard from Carol Doerfler, a part-time crossing guard at Cummings Elementary School. The school administration and neighbors want to see sidewalks installed on Delight Street North to reduce the number of students walking in the street before and after school.

“It is downright scary to watch the kids coming and going,” Doerfler said. “We’re now pushed out another year and we won’t get this done until 2019 or 2020. Try to help us get this project done.”

Only 50 of the roughly 440 students at Cummings ride a bus. The remainder either walk or are dropped off by parents and guardians. Currently, there isn’t a sidewalk on any of the streets around the school.

Public Works Director Bill Lawyer said the current design for a solution is expensive, particularly as a result of two homes that sit below street level and could become drainage problems, but that he wants to start working with city engineers on a new plan in the next quarter.

“If we step up those efforts, we can then go to the school with a plan in-hand,” Lawyer said.

The next meeting of the budget committee was Thursday, May 4. If needed the committee will meet again Tuesday, May 9.