To the Editor:
As a young father and active Keizer community member, I support the Keizer Fire District’s 59-cent levy because of its long-run benefits. It is part of Chief Jeff Cowan’s 10-year plan to put the fire district on solid financial footing.
As a neighborhood association representative, I was on the Citizen Advisory Committee that reviewed the district’s existing financial situation and service levels. Our committee also reviewed four optional levy amounts and expressed overwhelming support for the 59-cent levy because of its significant value. It allows the fire district to staff two ambulances, increase fire and emergency prevention efforts, and eliminate the yearly reliance on debt to finance its budget gaps during the year.
One might ask whether the real issue is Keizer Fire District’s service model. Prior to recommending the 59-cent levy increase, the fire district thoroughly vetted other service options, including private ambulances and/or consolidation with the adjacent fire districts. Because of our community’s population and geography, all of these options would result in a clear decrease in both fire protection and emergency medical services.
The proposed levy supports the emergency service levels we need and does so at a lower cost than what our neighboring fire districts charge their residents. With the addition of the proposed levy, we will be paying our fire district a total of $1.94 per $1,000 assessed home value, while Marion County Fire District’s combined rate is $2.19 and the Salem Fire Department receives an even greater amount.
I encourage you to vote YES this November to support a financially healthy fire district and a strong future for Keizer.