Goal is to make it easier to track fees in and out of city coffers

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer City Council approved the the establishment of special accounts for the parks and police fees collected by the city.

“By recording the amounts to a separate fund it separates the amount and provides more transparency to how much is received and what the amounts were used for,” said Tim Wood, Keizer’s finance director.

The council approved the supplemental budgets at the Dec. 4 meeting of the council. Keizer began collecting $4 for public safety staffing and $4 for parks maintenance and improvements in November. The council approved the fees last summer.

Each account was credited with $410,000, which is the amount city officials expect to collect between now and the end of the fiscal year in June 2018.

The amount calculated “is based on the number of accounts by type, residential, commercial and multi-family times the applicable rates taking into consideration the applicable low income/age-related discounts,” Wood said.

The Parks Services fund is also becoming the primary account for the Keizer’s parks department, which means other amounts dedicated to parks were also transferred into the account. That includes $331,800 dollars budgeted for parks in the regular budgeting cycle and $67,000 in income related to parks encompassing rental fees, cell tower leases and other income. Parks expenditures, amounting to $382,000, and transfers out of the account, amounting to $17,400 were debited to the account.

The police fee is being used to hire five additional officers for the department and recruiting for two positions is underway. The parks department is hiring two new employees and putting together a list of new equipment to support the department. The first park improvement project to benefit from the fee is expected to be a new play structure in Meadows Parks and a rehabilitation of other amenities at the site like pathways and turf.

Wood said response to the imposition of the fee hasn’t been anything unexpected. A handful of residents turned out at city council meetings requesting more insight into the process by which the fees were passed, but dissent was relatively muted.

The city council and the Keizer Budget Committee will review the fees in May before approval of the 2018-19 budget. Those looking to involve themselves in the discussion can speak during the public hearings held by the budget committee.