A budget with discounts, summer concerts and increased costs for waste removal 

Keizer mayor Cathy Clark with Community Diversity Engagement Committee
member Nevaeh Music. Photo by QUINN STODDARD of Keizertimes
Keizer mayor Cathy Clark with former council youth liaison Grayton Woodard
honoring him for his time with the council Photo by QUINN STODDARD of Keizertimes

A nearly full council met on Monday, June 3, to finalize the 2024-35 fiscal budget, renew summer concerts in Keizer and discuss a series of proposed rate increases for waste removal. 

The night began with two proclamations one for LGTBQ+ Pride Month and one to honor youth councilor Grayton Woodard, who is graduating from McNary and heads to University of Washington after summer break. 

The LGTBQ+ representative from the Community Diversity Engagement Committee, Nevaeh Music, accepted a proclamation from Mayor Cathy Clark by speaking first of her experience within the city as it pertains to LGTBQ+ people. 

She described how she has felt accepted in Keizer, even mistaking the Pride in the city motto as meaning gay pride. 

Music mentioned that since 2022, when she joined the CDEC, she has noticed that same feeling wane. 

She referenced an event that occurred at Volcanoes Stadium, the Reawaken Tour, a far-right conspiracy group touting COVID conspiracies, election fraud as well as anti-vaxx theories. 

Music stated how this tour took precedence over the pride event causing it to be canceled due to the threat of aggressive protest against LGTBQ+ folks as well as the perception that the Keizer Police Department (KPD) would not as enthusiastically support the pride event or protect the event attendees. 

“I’m curious what that says about us, that diversity cannot be fostered here, within our city limits,” Music said. 

She went on to note that while the council does declare the month of June as LGTBQ+ pride month, the fact that no other attempts to support the community make the words a hollow gesture. 

Keizer has had attempts to promote LGBTQ+ values, such as inclusion, in the past when council discussed flying a pride flag in the council chambers, though no progress has been made. 

The council did not respond to Music’s claims. 

The council had representative David Dempster from the Traffic Safety/Bikeways and Pedestrian Committee (TSBPC) discuss what the committee has been up to. 

Dempster talked about speeding issues on River Road and those that have come in to make complaints. He also described a conversation with engineer Adam Mansur at a previous TSBPC meeting about what needs to occur at a policy level to change the rules of the road such as speed change. 

He referred to a bike skills event that happened on May 4 at Keizer Elementary and low turnout due to rainy weather. 

The project for Wheatland Rd is currently under review, though, according to Clark, it is in the queue with SKATS to get money to do the project. 

Several public comments were made first by Colleen Busch of Keizer who talked about Keizer’s Environmental Education coordinator Jenny Ammon and thanked her for her hard work and how much she has connected Keizerites to education about water and the environment. 

Barbara Miner, president of the board of directors of the Keizer Community Library spoke next and talked about an upcoming event that the library wants to host. They asked for a fee waiver for the upcoming event which was granted. 

Keizer Chamber of Commerce executive director Corri Falardeau and board treasurer Jonathon Thompson came before the council to discuss the chamber’s budget proposal rather than highlight the original request. 

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. 

In lieu of asking for money, the Chamber will have a series of meetings with Mayor Clark and Councilors Kyle Juran and Soraida Cross to determine how much the chamber would receive and what future financial asks might look like. 

No dollar amount was mentioned in what the Chamber would receive from the city’s budget. 

A series of public hearings were held in regards to finishing and approving the 2024-25 fiscal budget with a conversation about the water rate increase occurring this year. 

Conversation about this topic revolved around how the 2024-25 fiscal budget originally called for a 4% rate increase for customers, a trend that has been occurring for years to keep in line with inflationary pressure. This year, the budget committee provided Keizerites with a 4% discount, effectively flattening this year’s increase, based upon a transfer of $75,000 from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. 

Discussion involved Keizer Councilor Laura Reid noting that this 4% discount will be short-lived as next year the discount would create an even larger increase in the water rate, doubling it from 4% to an 8% increase down the line as the discount is set to expire by the end of the next calendar year, Dec 31, 2025. 

Reid ended up voting yes on the resolution though noted that this would end up hurting Keizerite’s wallets down the line. 

The resolution was approved by the council unanimously. 

The next resolution dealt with the city declaring an election, coming up in November of this year, in order to be able to draw state shared revenues, according to the associated staff report

The requirements for funding would also require the city to certify that it provides at least four or more city-wide services, which it does. The city anticipates receiving around $454,000 in state shared revenue, which would be used to help fund the general budget. 

Councilor Cross asked how much of this funding would go to KPD, which already consumes 70% of the general fund to which Assistant City Manager Tim Wood responded that they would receive a share equal to what they receive from the general budget, 70% or around $317,800 of the shared revenue stream. 

Both resolutions about state revenues and providing services were approved unanimously. 

The council next discussed finalizing the 2024-25 fiscal budget, discussion of which occurred on May 13 and 14 and was previously covered by Keizertimes. The entire city budget for this year stands at around $69 million and must be officially adopted by June 30. 

Wood noted that both parks and police fees are not raising, though the police fee received a similar discount due to appropriation of opioid relief funds. 

The 2024-25 fiscal budget was approved unanimously. 

The last public hearing dealt with representatives from the city’s two main waste removal services, Valley Disposal and Recycling and Loren’s Sanitation, and a requested rate increase. 

The waste removal services spoke as to the reason they needed the increase stating raising inflationary costs associated with garbage removal. The companies are requesting two increases, first in August of this year at 5% and then in Jan. 2025 at 3% for a total increase of 8% before the end of the next fiscal year. 

The last rate increase made by the services equated to 10%, taken in Dec. 2022. 

One public comment was made by Keizer-resident Sam Spink against the raising of the increase as he noted several neighbors who, due to being unable to afford the rising cost of trash buckets, began storing garbage in other places around their property. 

He provided examples of comparable city service rates, such as those in Corvallis and how they are lower than rates here in Keizer. 

When asked by the council about how the companies would be affected were a rate increase not to take place, representatives noted that they would be forced to relook at the contract they have with the city. 

The resolution received a friendly amendment to change the start date of the waste removal cost increase to August in order to give residents longer than three weeks as the initial start date was July of this year. 

The resolution passed unanimously. 

Public Works director Bill Lawyer announced that the Keizer Public Works fair will be held at Keizer Rapids Park on Tuesday, June 18, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

This is the same day that Trashy Tuesday, a Keizer city program, is starting as well at Palma Ceia Park and Sunset Park. 

The following Trashy Tuesday events will be held on July 16, August 20, September 17 and October 1. 

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

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