School board backs urban renewal plan

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By HERB SWETT
Of the Keizertimes

A reimbursement agreement between the Salem-Keizer School District and the city of Keizer was approved Tuesday at a special School Board meeting.

The agreement, already approved by Marion County and several other taxing districts that include Keizer, is aimed at making up for defaults by owners of five parcels in the Keizer Station for local improvement district assessments. The defaults put the city in potential financial jeopardy.

The maximum amount of forgone revenue to the school district, subject to verification by the Marion County tax assessor, is $1,810,116.88. The city will reimburse the district annually for up to 10 years, starting Dec. 12 of this year, for the amount the district does not receive because of the agreement.

Approval of the agreement had been recommended by school district staff. Superintendent Sandy Husk told the board, “There is no financial advantage to our not approving

Director Chuck Lee, whose zone includes Keizer, introduced the motion for approval. He recalled that Keizer had helped the district in 2008 when local leaders worked hard for passage of a $242 million bond issue.

Board chair Rick Kimball spoke against the motion, arguing that “we need to look for every penny in our budget.”

Director Nancy MacMorris-Adix asked how other taxing entities in the area had voted. Paul Dakopolos, attorney for the district, said that nearly all of them had approved the plan, the Keizer Fire District having switched from its initial negative stand, and that the Chemeketa Community College District had yet to take a position.

MacMorris-Adix expressed the concern that the agreement would trade jobs in Keizer for jobs elsewhere in the county, but she said she would vote for it because of the administration’s recommendation.

The board voted 4-2 in favor of the agreement. Director Jeff Faville, casting the other negative vote, said the plan seemed to assume that there would be an economic recovery in a few years. Director Ron Jones was absent.

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