CITY BUDGET: Kicking the can down the road

(This story has been updated from its original version to provide a more in-depth look at the entire budgeting process.)

Over almost nine hours between two days, the Keizer City Council, city staff and other select members came together to review and discuss the incoming budget for the cities 2024-25 fiscal year. 

Councilor Dan Kohler and pastor Jonathon Thompson, treasurer of the Keizer Chamber served as the chair and vice chair of the budget committee respectively. 

City Manager Adam Brown kicked off the evening providing the budget message as well as the overall theme for the committee: fiscal sustainability. 

Whether or not that theme holds true remains to be seen in Keizer’s future.

Brown provided a list of current projects and accomplishments from the council and city staff including the groundbreaking of the Keizer Rapids turf field. Updating the city’s agenda management system, codifying more than 40 years of KEizer ordinance as well as improving the Human Resources Information system (HRIS).

Brown provided the five main objectives for the budget committee in this year’s upcoming budget: completing the council’s short and long term goals, finding a path to fiscal year 2029, maintaining the level of service desired by our residents, not getting behind on capital investment across city services and closing out reporting on the $8.8 million ARPA funds still left. 

Brown discussed the current property tax ratio in Oregon noting that assessed values are lowered by almost 50% before they are at the rate where they will be taxed. These determinations are made by the Marion county tax assessor’s office in conjunction with Measures 5, 47 and 50. 

Testimony over the two days came from several representatives such as Jessi Zumwalt, manager of the Keizer Community Library who spoke about the 700 visitors a month on average the library receives as well as having 3350 people through doors this month alone.

Zumwalt described how there are now 1600 active cardholders and the library has 15,000 items which were mainly donated by the community. She asked the committee for tangible requests in the form of a $30,000 grant to retain employees and serve the community.

Jonathan Thompson, the Chamber treasurer; Jane Lowery the Chamber president; and director Jeremey Turner from the Keizer Chamber of Commerce spoke about a financial request from the committee.  

The Chamber’s Budget request was emailed the week prior, and was late to making the council’s deadline. Highlights for their requests included visitor center support and staffing for $28,000, $20,000 for rebranding and to aid with a hard-copy visitor’s guide and $1,500 for the Leadership Keizer program bringing the total request to $50,000 altogether. 

Despite the budget being late, treasurer and budget committee vice chair Jonathon Thompson provided no reason for the lateness and asked for grace and full funding of the request regardless. 

Lore Christopher, Keizer resident, spoke next for the Keizer Cultural Center. She spoke about the center and how it is Transient Lodge Tax eligible, a way to reduce costs by designating certain items as tourism-related projects. Currently the Homegrown Theatre and the Keizer Art Association pay rent/ $900 per month. The total operating budget for the cultural center this year is $52,000 of which the city was asked to support half ($26,000). 

Meredith Mooney, President of Keizer United also spoke in regards to her stepping down as the president of Keizer United. She provided an update from last year noting how every dollar given to the group resulted in around $26 going back into the community. 

She also acknowledged the value of Keizer United as a partner collaboration and how, oftentimes, meetings facilitated more partners meeting and working together. 

In regards to Mooney stepping down, she brought forth Sam Skillern and Jennifer Palanuk, both with experience running nonprofits, from Salem Leadership Foundation personnel to take up the mantle of running it. Mooney is stepping down at the end of June 2024. 

Barbara Miner, who is on the board of directors at the Keizer Community Library on the board of directors. She discussed the money the library has raised and how they are actively seeking donations and wrote several grants, around half of which were denied. 

Miner mentioned how Keizer’s Weddle Elementary School currently has a 13% literacy rate amongst students, in an effort to emphasize the need and utility of having a public library. 

For their fiscal quarter one checkout numbers, she noted that the overall number of books being checked out has increased. Kids book checkouts have doubled, early reader book checkouts now compose 19% of checkouts while picture books make up 20%. 

The budget process was split up into several categories: the administrative services fund, the Public Works Funds, the General Funds as well as Other or Miscellaneous Funds.

A full layout of the 2024-25 budget can be found at under the May 13 and 14 meeting minutes.

Administrative Services Fund

The administrative services fund is composed of a variety of internal departments that are grouped together and accounts for the financing of goods and services to these various city departments. 

City departments include: city manager, city attorney, city recorder, human resources, non-departmental finance employees, information technology, utility billing, non-departmental Public Works staff, Facility maintenance as well as General administration personnel. 

The office of the City Manager: found on page 95-96 of the budget. The office includes 1 full-time employee (FTE). The office is requesting a 3.9% increase in funding based on Cost of living adjustment (COLA) increases. The starting fund balance is $302,900 with expenditures at around 294,000 and material and service charges taking up the remaining $8,600. 

The office of the City Attorney: located on pg. 97-98. 

This position has two 2 FTE with the city attorney and a legal assistant. The office is requesting a 3.2% increase in relation to COLA expenses. The starting fund balance is $429,100 with expenditures equaling $395,300 and materials and service expenses covering the last $33,800. 

The office of the City Recorder: located on pg. 99-100. This position also has two FTE, with the city recorder and deputy city recorder. The beginning fund balance for the 2024-25 budget is $312,900, a 5.8% decrease from last year. The cost for personnel services such as payroll totals $306,400 with the remaining $6,500 in materials and services. 

Human Resources: Located on pages 101-102. This position has two FTE. Major changes to this budget revolve around a 4% increase for COLA. The total budget for this department is $458,100, a 2.6% increase from last year. The department expends $415,200 for personnel services and the remaining $42,900 for materials and service charges. 

Non-departmental Finance: Located on pages 103-104. This administrative section of the finance department has four FTE and recently increased their staff by one person. The department is led by Finance director Tim Wood and also has a payroll, general ledger and banking and admin assistant employees. The total budget for this section this year is $694,900. Personnel services such as payroll equal out to $613,100 while the remaining $81,800 in materials and services. 

Information systems department: Located on pages 105-106. This department has two FTE. Upcoming changes in this department include software updates as well as updating public works Geographic Information System software. With regard to hardware, work will be done on phone and email upgrades as well as access points. The total budget for this department is $814,700. This budget is split with $314,100 for personnel services, $365,000 for materials and service charges and the remaining $133,600 used for a capital outlay expense labeled as “computer hardware” in the budget report.  

Utility billing: Located on pages 107-108. This department operates and maintains the billing function for utilities such as water, sewer and stormwater services. Currently has three FTE. The current total budget here is $516,300, a 1.6% increase. The department has $321,000 going to personnel services and the remaining $195,300 towards materials and services. 

Non-departmental Public works: Located on pages 109-110. The department provides efficient and sound infrastructure facilities and services regarding water, wastewater, stormwater and parks. This budget captures costs for staff like the Public Works director and an administrative assistant in the PW shop. The total budget for this department is $753,200, a 3.1% increase from last year. This budget is split with $680,900 going to personnel services, $67,300 to materials and services and the remaining $5,000 as a capital outlay expense. 

General Administration: Located on pages 113-115. This department acts as a catch-all for departments not already covered in other administrative departments. Funding covers things such as office supplies, printing postage, association membership dues, tuition reimbursement funds and league of Oregon cities conference funds. The total amount in this fund for the 2024-25 year is $715,200, a 30.7% increase from last year. Expenditures include $416,000 for materials and services as well as $137,600 in contingency funding and $161,600 for operations funding.  

Public Works Fund 

Street fund: Located on pages 116-118. The primary focus is to maintain the existing road system, replace and repair streets to keep them passable. Primary revenue sources for this fund involve the state fuel tax which provided $3,100,000 this year. The total budget for this fund is $5,200,200, a 1.2% decrease from last year. Expenditures include $167,200 for personnel services, $915,500 for materials and services and another $2,326,600 for capital outlay projects such as street improvements ($318,000), signage and signal upgrades ($125,000) and street resurfacing ($1,650,000). 

Street lighting: located on page 119. With around 200 light districts across the city a major change happening with the budget this year is rising electricity costs. This year a 7% increase in cost or around $5-6 per household is expected to take effect. The total amount in this budget is $986,600 which is a 7.8% increase from last year. Expenditures include $490,100 in materials and service charges, $130,000 in contingency funding and another $366,600 restricted to operations. 

Transportation improvement fund: located on page 120. Revenue for this fund comes from system development charges made by projects in the city for homes like single family and multi-family housing. The total budget for this fund is $4,650,800, which is a 16.8% increase from last year. Expenditures for this fund revolve almost exclusively around the capital outlay at $4,308,900 with another $341,900 which is restricted funding for transportation improvements. There are no improvements anticipated for the 2024-25 fiscal year, according to the budget report. 

Stormwater fund: Located on pages 121-123. Stormwater revenues come from user fees from city services bills for the fourth year and have not requested a rate increase since. The fund has a total of nine FTE. Upcoming projects in a wetlands enhancement project next year. Permits for this project should come within the next few months for a project starting in 2025, according to Lawyer. The stormwater system the city uses is in good repair which is one of the reasons no rate increases have not occurred within the last few years. The total budget for this fund is $3,515,900, a 4.4% decrease from last year. Expenditures include: 1,100,100 for personnel services, $1,087,400 for materials and services, $717,500

Sewer Fund: Located on pages 124-125. Keizer is a part of a multi-jurisdictional group of cities that have sewer systems managed by Salem. In this equation, Keizer does the bookkeeping of who is managed and how much they pay. There is no new information on if or when rates for this service will increase as the City of Salem has not yet determined them. Conversations about rate increases should happen this summer with a determination on any changes by the end of the summer. Expect a 4-5 rate increase, which has already been budgeted for, according to Lawyer. The total amount in this fund is $8,189,400, a 4.7% increase from last year. Expenditures in this fund equal 7,777,000 for materials and services, $2,400 for personnel services, $40,000 in contingency funds and the remaining $372,400 committed for future fund operations.  This budget was approved by the committee unanimously. 

Sewer Reserve: Located on page 126. This fund comes from systems development charges from properties outside of the primary sewer district such as on Windsor Island Road. Everything needed on and paid for through this fund and is required in the sewer master plan has been built, according to Lawyer. The total amount of funding in this fund is $420,200, a 37.1% increase from last year. Expenditures cover funds for capital outlay projects this year including just unanticipated expenses at $350,000 and the remaining $70,200 in funding restricted to improvements with Keizer sewers. 

The Water Fund: Located on pages 128-129 in the budget report. The most contention in the committee came around during discussion of the city’s water fund. 

The total resource amount for the 2024-25 budget year is $4,994,300 while the total requirements, including payroll, capital outlay project funding and materials and services is $4,994,300. The section has 12 FTE and the largest and most recent capital outlay expense was for a service truck which needed replacing. 

This fund generates revenue through user-fees and this year required a 4% increase in the water rate, around a $1 increase per household. 

Keizer has the lowest water rate in Oregon at $1.68 per unit. 

Discussion spanned over both days of the committee meetings with members finally coming to divided agreement in the last minutes of the final meeting. 

A number of proposals were made revolving around eliminating the 4% rate increase this year with the final approved motion, made by Christopher and aided by Councilor Soraida Cross, to eliminate the 4% water rate for this year and instead appropriate $150,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds designated for the second phase of the turf field. 

Though this means that Keizerites will not have an increase to their water rate this year, the 2025-26 budget will require an 8.2% increase to make up for the lack of increase this year, according to Assistant City Manager Tim Wood. 

Brown concurred stating that this is, “Not his recommendation to budget committee staff that the ARPA funds be used.” 

Public Works director Bill Lawyer also agreed stating that, “Delaying replacements and rate increases will cost the community further down the line,” Bill Lawyer.

This motion was approved in a nearly equally divided vote. 

Water Facility Replacement: Located on page 130. Revenues come from system development charges based on water meter size. This fund is also how new wells and water main replacements are funded. This fund is intertwined with the water fund meaning that things that affect the water fund, such as a rate increase or lack thereof, will also affect this fund. One effect will be seen in the $500,000 set aside as a transfer to the water facility replacement reserve in the form of a $100,000 reduction in funding transferred bringing the total to $400,000 in 2025. The total amount in this fund is $4,994,300, a %3.4 increase from last year. Expenditures for this fund include $1,502,100 for personnel services, $1,985,300 for materials and services, and $178,000 for capital outlay projects. The remaining funds are split between $525,00 for contingency and transfer funds and another $703,900 committed to operations fees. 

Park Services Fee: Located on pages 131 – 133. This fund is created through general funds as well as a park service fee for Keizer residents. Has five FTE as of February 2024. No big changes are anticipated to this budget other than maintenance needs increasing due to a drinking fountain being installed at the boat ramp at Keizer Rapids Park. Allocation of $50,000 is the start of a sinking fund for turf field projects. The total amount for this fund is $1,926,200, a 19.8% increase from last year. Expenditures include $595,100 for personnel services, $343,800 for materials and services, $698,300 for capital outlay projects and improvements, $150,000 of contingency funding and $139,000 restricted to operations fees for parks. 

Park Improvement Fund: Located on page 134. This fund provides a project fund for park services. The total amount in this fund is $1,846,300, a 14.4% increase from last year. Expenditures this year include $1,734,900 for unanticipated expenses or projects and as well as $111,400 restricted to park improvements. 13.6% of the cost of pickleball courts and turf field projects came from the fund. 

The General Budget: Located on page 135 of the budget report. This budget represents the entirety of funds and accounts for financial resources for all funds for the city.  

The general budget for the 2024/25 fiscal year is $19,076,100, a 15.7% increase from the year prior, with expenditures at $15,056,000 and the remaining $3,429,300 as unassigned funds. 

Non-departmental resources: Located on pages 136-137. These pages display the various forms of revenue the city accrues from places such as franchise fees, taxation of businesses or sales tax, as well as other miscellaneous revenue streams. The total amount in this fund is $18,001,200, a 50% increase from last year. Notable reductions to this account deal with the remaining ARPA funds ($1.14 million) to the ending balance of the police services fund. The committee reviewed and approved 2024/25 Keizer property rates keeping them at $2.08 per $1,000 of assessed value. 

Non-departmental requirements: Located on pages 138-139. This fund includes all non-departmental expenses such as Keizer nonprofits, a community prosperity grant ($20,000) or the Salem-Keizer Schools Tax payment ($0 since 2021-22). Total expenditures in this fund include: $3,390,600 for materials and services, $200,000 in general contingency funds and $390,800 in transfers out to the park services fund ($360,800) and the transportation improvements fund ($30,000). A number of changes were made to this fund. 

Mayor Cathy Clark made a motion to remove city art options Art Walks Artist’s stipends ($3,200), Public Art commission fees ($6,000) and Civic Center Art ($500) and move to make them Transient Lodging Tax (TLT) which is the state lodging tax and is currently at 1.5 percent of the amount charged for occupancy of transient lodging, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue. 

Lore Christopher made a motion to move all opioid money settlements into the police fund ($175,000). The motion passed with one “No” vote from Councilor Robert Husseman. The funding from the opioid settlements would be restricted to use for drug enforcement-related activities. 

Another motion was made for the Keizer Chamber in that they would be given the $50,000 funding request provided Executive director Corri Falardeau appears before council on June 3 to justify the amount.

Christopher made a motion to appropriate $17,200 for funding for two air conditioners, more lighting and outdoor railings at the Keizer Cultural Center. 

Councilor Robert Husseman added a friendly amendment to add $30,000 for the Kezier community library. The motion failed, however, Christopher made the same motion without the friendly amendment which then passed. 

A motion was made to approve general services fund as amended with additional amendment of transferring the remaining $1.14 million to the Police ending fund balance of the Keizer Police operations fund. The motion was approved.  

Planning Fund: Located on pages 140-141. This fund covers the operations and services provided by the Keizer Planning department such as the economic well-being of the city as well as citizen and business quality of life. This fund accrues $92,000 in revenue while expenditures equal $574,300 in personnel services and $87,300 for materials and services. No major changes were made to the budget and it was approved as is. 

Municipal Court: Located on page 142. This fund helps pay for a municipal judge for Keizer and other court-related matters. The total amount of revenue for this fund is $275,000, a 16.7% decrease from last year. Expenditures include $114,500 in personnel services and $121,700 for materials and services, with total expenditures at $236,200. 

The Police Fund: Found on pages 143-145 in the budget report. At 70% of the current general fund and with 42 employees, the police operations budget is the largest expense for the City of Keizer. The total budget amount is $10,767,600 with payroll expenditures at $9,162,200 and materials and service charges at the remaining $1,243,400. 

The police service fee, currently $6.90 per single family household, is slated to rise by another 15% this year bringing the new per month charge to $7.94. 

In order to alleviate this, Christopher made a motion to move a series of opioid settlement payments the city has received over the last few years (around $172,000) into the Police Services fund in order to offset some of the rate increase this year. Discussion between Cross and Police chief Andrew Copeland about the extra opioid settlement funds also covered using the funds to conduct more community outreach and provide education about narcotics, though no motion was made to specifically earmark this. 

According to Wood, this rate would not increase next year, provided more opioid settlement funds are given to the city. If that does not happen, Wood noted how the rate increase will likely rise from 15% to 32% to make up. 

The police operations fund also received $1.14 million in remaining ARPA funding which will be placed into the police operations fund ending balance. Keizer Police were already slated to have these funds moved to them over the next five years in order to maintain current staffing levels. 

The Keizer Community Library will receive an infusion of $30,000, a critical point to both maintaining the services they offer as well as bringing the organization one step closer to becoming an official public library. The funding was appropriated from the ARPA funds. 

Other Funds 

Police Services Fee: Located on page 145. Similar to other funds, this service fee was slated to rise this year by around 15.8% for residents. In order to offset this, around  $172,000 in opioid funds were put into this fund which will be used to offset the increase this year. 

According to Wood, this rate would not increase next year, provided more opioid settlement funds are given to the city. If that does not happen, Wood noted how the rate increase will likely rise from 15% to 32% to make up. 

A motion was made to approve the police services fee budget as amended and passed unanimously. 

American Rescue Plan Act: Located on pages 146-147. This federal funding was given to the city due to the COVID pandemic and associated financial struggle that came about from it. The total amount given was $8.8 million. As of this budget, all of that money has either been spent or earmarked. 

Christopher made a motion to approve $30,000 for Keizer Community Library and $3,000 for the Keizer community dinner, for a total of $33,000 appropriate from the ARPA funds. The motion passed. 

Christopher made a follow-on motion to allocate $16,800 from the ARPA funds to the Keizer Klosets program. Clark raised the concern of the sustainability of using ARPA funds to support this service rather than searching for a more long-term fix for funding. 

Brown also voiced concern about how while this is a feel-good allocation, it would be another service the city is taking on when it already is facing a budget crunch. 

The ARPA budget was approved as amended. 

Event Center: Located on pages 148-149. An increase in revenue is expected from center rental price increases due to a previously approved rental fee increase approved by the council. The fund has two FTE employees. The total amount in this fund is $1,007,400, a 27.2% increase from last year. Expenditures include: $255,000 for personnel services, $227,300 for materials and services, $60,000 for capital outlay expenses, $200,000 in contingency funds and another $265,100 in already assigned funding. 

Increased costs for this fund revolve around marketing costs increasing from $5,000 last year to $20,000 this year, in order to bring in a wider range of clientele. The fund has a $200,000 contingency fund for unexpected or emergency expenses. 

A motion was made to approve the budget as amended, removing $70,000 from the hotel/motel tax and the assigned fund balance at $195,100. The motion passed. 

Public Education Government Access (PEG): Located on page 150. This fund is set up to account for PEG franchise fees assessed on cable television bills. PEG fees can only be used for equipment purchases. Next year a transfer from the general fund will be necessary to keep services at its current level. 

The total balance for this year is $247,400 an 8.1% decrease from the previous year while major anticipated expenditures are $101,000 for materials and services, $40,000 in capital outlay improvements to televisions, as well nas another $116,400 in contingency and earmarked funds.  

One line item, Coffee with Cathy, was discussed with Clark noting how she was unaware that her segment was costing the city money despite requests totaling $6,145 over the past several years. 

Council President Shaney Starr annotated that the knowledge of this expense was new to all. The budget was approved as is with the amendment that the Coffee with Cathy segment will no longer be funded by the city budget, with the funding request for this year being $2,000. The motion passed. 

Keizer Youth Peer court: Located on page 151. This fund is used to account for donations made in memory of Cari Emery Colemen and supports the Keizer Youth Peer Court. The total amount in this fund is $13,400 with all funds already being earmarked to aid the youth court. 

Housing Rehabilitation program: Located on page 152. This fund is used to create loans for housing rehabilitation projects within the city. This fund is a revolving loan account meaning they have more flexibility when borrowing funds from it. 

The total amount for the fund is $195,800 with expenditures for materials and services at $195,800. This fund was approved as is. 

Energy Efficiency loan program: Located on page 153. This fund is used to help fund energy efficiency projects and improvements within the community. This fund is also a revolving loan account meaning they have more flexibility when borrowing funds from it. 

The total amount for the fund is $41,600 with expenditures for materials and services at $41,600. This fund was approved as is. 

Keizer Station local improvement : Located on page 154. This fund is used to fund improvements to the Keizer Station Development project. The cost has been assessed by the city and the property owners or those who directly benefit from the improvement. Currently, there are 25 property owners who owe assessments on development projects within Keizer Station. 

The total amount for the fund is $4,698,900 with expenditures for debt services at $1,594,200. The remaining $3,104,700 is in a restricted debt reserve fund. This fund was approved as is. 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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