Police and water fees to increase

A series of public hearings were held on Monday, June 6, during the City Council meeting – including two budget resolutions which are estimated to add a combined $2 per month to Keizer resident’s property taxes in the form of a water fee and police services fee increase. No one attending signed up to testify or had any questions or comments, and both resolutions passed unanimously, with the exception of Councilor Shaney Starr, who was excused.

Finance Director Tim Wood said a 4% water fee rate increase from last year is expected to raise about $67,000 in extra revenue for the city’s water fund, and that all of it had to be spent on improvements to the water system identified in the latest budget proposal and according to the city’s master plan.  

Wood was referring to the 20-year master water plan approved by the council in Fiscal Year 2012-13 that included spending $10 million on infrastructure improvements to the water system, paid for through annual 4-5% water fee increases such as this one.

According to this year’s budget, there are still $4.8 million in infrastructure improvement projects to complete from the 20-year plan, including the construction of an additional reservoir and the replacement of steel pipelines.

The police services fee increase is a fixed dollar amount – in this case, $1 per month.

“Contrary to what we originally discussed during the long-range planning task force, the increase is only one dollar as opposed to two dollars per month,” said Wood.

In the original budget negotiations, Chief John Teague presented his proposal for the police department as a two-track option for either a $1 or $2 monthly police services fee increase, in which he compared what he expected the department to accomplish with each amount over the course of the year.

Wood said the $1 increase is expected to raise roughly $70,000 in extra revenue for the police department – which he said would support five additional police officers in Keizer.

When asked by Councilor Laura Reid to clarify, Wood confirmed it was the original police services fee in 2017 that was designed to pay the salaries of the five additional officers and not the $70,000 being raised from this proposed increase, which slated primarily for police equipment.

Councilor Dan Kohler said some of his constituents had expressed concern over the rate increase percentage and asked Wood to explain the reasoning.

“This is only the second time we’ve increased it since it was initiated in 2017, so that’s the largest driver,” said Wood. “Also, we’re seeing rates of inflation that are a lot higher than what we’ve seen in the past – and this does provide the resources to outfit those officers well.”

Another public hearing was to declare the city’s shared revenues, which Wood described as being primarily driven by alcohol sales.

“The state is requiring that we say yes we want to receive this revenue,” he said. “That comes out to approximately $430,000 that we use to support the general fund, which is primarily police services.”