A pricey promise

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Reporter’s Notebook is a new feature in the Keizertimes. Here our writers and editors will offer a glimpse behind the headlines to stories and issues bubbling just below the surface.

This column does contain analysis from our writers; however, information is reported and vetted the same way as it is in the day-to-day news you’ve come to trust us to provide.

One city general fund line item came in $115,000 short – the sewer license fee.

Some of this was completely out of the hands of Keizer officials: Salem leaders didn’t pass a rate increase that Keizer finance officials had anticipated.

The Keizer City Council had raised sewer and stormwater franchise fees from 5 to 7 percent during 2010-11 budget discussions, but promised to revisit the issue in December 2010. If the money wasn’t seen as needed, the fees would be rolled back.

When the time came the finance department reported some $77,000 in unanticipated revenues had come in, and that $203,000 had been saved via mid-year “spending freezes.” Finance Director Susan Gahlsdorf noted these savings came from “one-time events or timing issues,” and this came before  February, when city officials learned franchise fees from other sources were coming in below projections.

The committee and council had made a promise, and they kept it. Finance staff estimated in December the rollbacks would end up cutting revenues by about $57,400.

– Jason Cox

Fire board candidate subject of complaint

 

A challenger to Marion County Fire incumbent Orville Downer questions whether he’s spending as little as he says – or isn’t saying.

Andrea Batchelor filed the complaint May 2 after a letter from former Marion County Sheriff Raul Ramirez was mailed to area residents. The letter states current board chair Randy Franke is “under attack by the local Fire District union” due to Franke’s “efforts to keep the fire district accountable.” It goes on to state the union “recruited Robert Palmer and Andi Batchelor to run against two current sitting board members. In fact, Andi Batchelor is the girlfriend of current Union President if that tells you anything.”

The letter doesn’t mention Downer. But Batchelor wondered in her complaint whether Franke and Downer had “coordinated” their campaigns. Batchelor is running against Downer, while Franke is being challenged by Robert Palmer.

Downer has not filed a Statement of Organization with the state, required if a candidate intends to spend more than $750. Franke has spent more than $13,400, according to state records.

“At this point there’s no reason for Andrea to file that thing,” Downer said. “In the past four times I’ve run for office I’ve never spent anything and never filed anything, other than the form that says you didn’t spend anything.”

– Jason Cox

 

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