New tax for police, fire may be on Nov. ballot

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KEIZERTIMES/File Photo

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer City Councilors indicated Monday they still support some sort of new fee or tax to raise more money for police and fire services.

The question is how, and specifically what are voters most likely to support in a November ballot measure? Councilors expressed a preference Monday night for a fee assessed via utility bills over a tax aimed at cell phone users. The city and the Keizer Fire District may soon survey the public on which approach residents are most likely to support.

With the costs of providing 911 services growing – and increasingly subsidized by general fund revenues rather than dedicated 911 fees – both city and fire district officials have sought to find another revenue source to pay for those mounting communication costs.

Councilors last year passed a 3 percent telecom fee, but repealed it after opponents gathered enough signatures to place the question on a special election ballot via referendum.

Political consultant Chuck Adams is preparing a scientific survey, said City Manager Chris Eppley. Estimated at about $6,000, costs would be split between the city and fire district. About 400 people can expect to be contacted, Eppley said.

“You’re going to want to know what’s the most likely” approach the public would support, Eppley told the city council Monday night. “Otherwise you’re reducing your effectiveness as a group and wasting money, possibly, if you choose the wrong one.”

Police Chief Marc Adams said he sensed support for a fee on utility bills after a series of town halls earlier this year explaining expenses and possible revenue-generating measures.

“What we’re looking at is how to raise revenue to pay emergency communications costs for both agencies and freeing up money, at least for the police department, for personnel,” Adams said.

City Councilor Brandon Smith said explaining the proposed 3 percent telecom fee “takes three minutes of explanation” to turn around a default position of no.

“(Voters) have to know exactly what the impact to them is and what (we) are going to use it for,” Eppley added.

Joe Van Meter, president of the Keizer Fire District board, said his group hasn’t yet voted to support a particular methodology, but “we have clearly communicated to our chief we are in support to get a replacement for the landline reductions in 911 costs because as that fund’s reduced we have to expend more from our general fund.”

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6 Responses for “New tax for police, fire may be on Nov. ballot”

  1. Terry says:

    No! Simple… NO FREAKEN WAY!!! I’m tired of little or no pay, over priced food, over price gas, raised utilities, and now you want more!! NO!

  2. Josh says:

    YES YES YES! These fine men and women put their lives at risk all the time. They needs funds to run the fire district. I wouldn’t want to wait on Salem to respond if I had a fire. Yes it would only take a few extra minutes but that can mean life or death in a fire.

  3. Heidi says:

    I say what the heck is the city collecting money for the fire district? Please get real. I can not afford to pay more. I barely have enough now. I have not seen an increase in the last several years. In fact, my income has reduced. Stop this insanity.

  4. Jeff says:

    We already pay more for fire protection, now they want more? Come on if you want another tax then you can kiss your next tax levy goodbye! As for Police, well Keizer already has a very low crime rate. Take a look at Woodburn or Salem, their crime rate is really high.

  5. Sam says:

    I’ll keep it simple. I can’t afford more fees! Something is wrong here. The economy is in the dump, I struggle to pay my bills, and the city and fire district need more. Do not support it.

  6. Bob says:

    I will vote no for that ballot measure. When I see motorcycle cops hiding behind trees, bushes and buildings preying on motorists instead of dealing with property crimes that are at the national level…Keizer doesn’t need more cops to waste our tax dollars on.

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