Public library funding measure will not be on November ballot

Keizerites who were hoping to have a public library within the city limits in the next couple of years will have to wait – again.

Keizer City Council met in regular session July 5 – at issue was a ballot measure for adding a $1.00 to $2.50 service fee which would have gone toward funding a permanent public library in Keizer.

The council took a vote, and per the recommendation from City Manager Adam Brown, they decided to defer the issue to a later date while the city staff conducts more research.

“There are still a lot of questions unresolved,” said Brown during his presentation to the council. “What’s needed is time and conversation with other organizations.”

Brown said two of the primary questions were exactly at what amount the service fee increase would be set as well as the issue of space at the Keizer Cultural Center.

“Obviously that was one of the purposes of coming back to you today – do you want to fund it at the dollar-fifty level? And then since that time this other level has been discussed and put in front of us,” he said. “Space also came up – [the community library] works remarkably well in the space they are using now, but any type of relationship with CCRLS would challenge that space.”

Brown said other issues presenting difficulties were what he described as “voter mood” surrounding rising prices and a currently unfavorable view toward the cost of government increasing. He also expressed concerns over whether or not there was enough time to put together an effective information campaign ahead of the November election.

“There are very low approval ratings for most of our government services, especially at the federal level,” he said. “With high inflationary prices and low approval levels, I don’t know if the timing is the best to ask voters to make a decision about that.”

Mayor Cathy Clark concurred with Brown, saying she felt there is a burden on city government to closely watch spending at times like this, and to maintain awareness of the dollar’s purchasing power.

“I think this will buy us some time to get a better handle on what all this is going to mean for our ability to provide sustainable services,” she said.

Councilor Laura Reid, who was originally opposed to putting the measure on the November ballot, was the only “no” vote on July 5. Reid initially wanted the issue decided by the council in the same way the police fee was added, but a work group which she chaired decided to recommend a ballot measure, instead.

Councilor Dan Kohler, who also served on that task force, took time to explain his position in detail and offered a compromise to be discussed at a later meeting.

“I’m certainly not against the library, but we don’t have something that we can sell to the public right now on a ballot,” he said. “I think one of the things staff needs to look at is funding the library at a $60,000 per-year basis from ARPA funds, temporarily – giving them a bonus of $15,000 for a grant writer who can take a look at what’s going on with that.”