By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Fire District held their monthly board meeting on Dec. 18 with the main topic of discussion being the amendment of fees for fire plan reviews.

It was announced that in November, the district received $135,350 in ambulance payments, which ended up being under budget.

The district was also over budget when it came to overtime hours for the fire staff — in large part due to the fact that many firefighters were sent down south to help with the wildfires in California. 

To try and help fix the minor budget issues, Jeff Cowan, the Keizer Fire Chief, brought a proposal before the board that would require anyone that applies for a permit for a new building to pay a six percent fire and life safety fee — the city, state and count currently charge a 12 percent fee. The script that he read from was created by the fire district’s legal council.

Right now, there is only a $90 fee for anyone that applies for a new building permit — the six percent fee would be tacked on to that. 

Part of the reason Cowan believes this will be good for the city of Keizer is that the money won’t be coming from the taxpayer’s wallet.

“With our current policy, fire district taxes would pay for our inspection fees. But our costs are going up and we don’t want to put anymore cost on the back of the taxpayer,” Cowan said about the proposal. 

According to Cowan, the majority of new buildings that are going up in the city are commercial buildings where the owners don’t live in Keizer.  

Although the proposal was initially passed, it was later determined during the meeting that it would be in the best interest of the city to hold a public comment period.

Nate Brown, the Community Development Department director for the city of Keizer, has his reservations about the fee proposal.

“I’m really struggling to see how important (the proposal) is because it’s not going to raise a lot of money for them,” Brown said. “It just seems like nickle and diming people for not very much (money).”

According to Brown, the Marion County finance department estimated that the city collects about $30,000 per year in building permit fees, meaning that the six percent fee would roughly bring in just $1,800.

There will be a public comment period addressing this issue at the next board meeting, which will take place on Jan. 15. 

In other business:

• Keizer Fire District office manager Vickey Dosier is retiring at the end of the month. She will be replaced by Lyn Komp — who is coming from the Mount Angel Fire Department — in January.

• The board unanimously passed a renewal of the Accident and Sickness program, which gives benefits to volunteer firefighters.

• The board also unanimously passed a renewal of their property and liability coverage.

• The district has received 95 percent of tax revenue for the year — they have until May to collect all the revenue.

• Cowan addressed the fire that occurred at the Santa Breakfast on Dec. 9 at the station, which was apparently caused by a malfunction with the stove. The fire caused only minor damage, but the stove needed a $500 repair.