Council discusses city councilor, city manager vacancies

Keizer City Attorney Shannon Johnson (left) and Public Works Director Bill Lawyer. (KEIZERTIMES/Joey Cappelletti)

Baseball and softball fields weren’t the only thing on deck at Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting. 

$1.8 million worth of new projects, a vacant council seat and an updated timetable on the search for a new city manager were all discussed by the shorthanded council. Only four city councilors were present, with councilors Kyle Juran and Roland Herrara having excused absences in addition to the resignation of Ross Day last week. 

One of the first actions the council took was authorizing a supplemental budget. Earlier this year, the city of Keizer was allocated $8,815,890 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. They received half of that amount — $4,407,945 — in August with an additional $850,000 coming from the State of Oregon. 

During an Oct. 25 meeting, the city’s Long Range Planning Task Force suggested using $1.8 million of those funds on eight projects this year. Those projects are

• Meadows Pump Stations – $1,000,000

• ADA Street Ramp Improvements – $400,000

• Cybersecurity and IT Infrastructure – $123,900

• Code enforcement Vehicle – $47,000

• Police Radios – $30,600

• Police Parking Lot Access Keypad Upgrade – $18,500

• Codification of City Ordinances – $30,000

• Pass through allocation of HB 5006 Funds to CASA – $150,000

The most expensive project, the Meadows Pump Stations, will look to improve water quality in Keizer. Finance Director Tim Wood said that often during the summer the city receives more complaints about dirty water after turning on the Meadows Pump Station. Wood said improving this pump station has been planned for a while and the ARPA money eliminated the cost.

“It’s nice we can use ARPA funds to complete something on our water master plan. Paying for it with ARPA funds will also save each resident about $70 a year,” said Wood. 

Going forward, Wood said the rest of the ARPA funds will go through the regular budget process. In February of next year, the Long Range Planning Task Force will meet to once again discuss potential projects for the rest of the money. All of the $8,815,890 in ARPA funds must be allocated by the end of 2024.

The council also declared a vacancy for city council position number two — a position previously held by Day. 

Day resigned on Nov. 1 following an outburst at a meeting regarding the Community Diversity Engagement Committee. The council’s only comment on the situation involving Day came from Mayor Cathy Clark.

“I just have one comment. I would like to thank Councilor Ross for his service to the city and we wish him well as we move forward here,” said Clark. 

The council opted to make a Dec. 13 deadline for the public to submit letters of interest for the position. With that timetable, the council will both vote on and appoint a candidate at the Dec. 20 regular city council meeting. 

In addition to filling a council seat, the city is also looking for their next city manager. The city has begun advertising the position and in December will begin interviewing potential candidates. While those interviews will happen in executive sessions not open to the public, Oregon law requires the city to provide an opportunity for public input concerning the employment of the city manager.

At Monday’s meeting, the council passed a resolution that said they would provide that opportunity for public comment on the employment of the city manager — at the Nov. 15 meeting. In an email following the meeting, City Attorney Shannon Johnson said that “someone who read the agenda item would know they could appear and provide comment.” He added that there is no requirement for a separate notice or public hearing.

Since the mayor did not specifically check with the audience about public comment during that portion of the meeting, Johnson said the city would once again allow for public comment on the city manager search at the Dec. 6 meeting. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.