City leaders review budget for new fiscal year

Finance Officer Tim Wood presents the proposed 2022-23 budget on May 9.

Keizer’s Budget Committee split this year’s meeting into two parts, May 9-10, in order to address a long list of spending priorities as well as what to do with those millions in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. A final budget will be approved in June.

Keizer residents can expect some rate increases soon. If the proposed budget is approved, the city’s water rate will increase 4% beginning in January, and the sewer rate (which is set by Salem, not Keizer) will go up by 3%. Also beginning in January, there will be a $1 per-month increase in the Police Services Fee. Property taxes in Keizer are fixed and tied to assessed value.

The total budget for Keizer in Fiscal Year 22-23 comes to nearly $59.5 million, almost an 18% increase from last year. This is primarily due to the $4.4 million in ARPA funds the city has received for next year.

Most of the city’s annual revenue comes from charges for services such as water, sewer and stormwater charges. This is followed by property taxes, which combine to form $35 million in revenue each year.

Finance Officer Tim Wood noted that the city has a permanent, fixed property tax rate of $2.0838 per $1,000 of assessed value, and current Oregon state law prevents any increase.

According to the proposed budget, the city is planning on spending $42.5 million in 2022-23. As is usual, personnel services in the form of salaries and benefits make up the largest piece of the city’s spending plan and this year includes a 7.4% overall increase from last year.  

Wood said this is due to increases in wages, insurance and retirement costs. He said the salary increases averaged 3% and the budget allocates for a 5% increase in medical insurance premiums for city employees.

There are also some transfers scheduled this year, including $840,000 from the Police Services Fund to the General Fund to cover the cost of new officers, the General Fund will transfer $360,800 into the Parks Services Fund, and $30,000 from the General Fund to the Transportation Improvement Fund in order to repay an earlier loan. Additionally, $521,000 goes from the Street Fund to the Stormwater Fund to cover regular costs, and $650,000 from the Water Fund to the Water Facility Fund for capital improvements.

In terms of capital spending, the plan budgets $12,456,000 this year and nearly $1.8 million in debt repayments.  

While some possible 2022-23 projects are still under discussion – such as the conversion of Keizer Community Library into a public library and the installation of two new turf fields, some of the ARPA funds have already been earmarked, such as $700,000 for Community Center staffing.

City Manager Adam Brown said the remaining ARPA funds not allocated in the approved budget in June would be kept in a contingency fund to be released in case the city votes to move forward on either or both of those projects this coming year.