Parks Board still seeking input on possible measure

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Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is seeking public input on a possible parks ballot measure during a Feb. 11 meeting.

Not everyone is on board with the idea.

For much of the year, members of the Parks Board have talked about the idea of raising additional funds to do capital improvement projects at parks around Keizer, in addition to using funds for maintenance of those projects.

Last month, Parks Board members voted to accept public testimony during their Feb. 11 meeting. Members wanted to get the word out through fliers, social media, traditional media and the city’s website. Members hope to gather public input and then come up with a recommendation to send to the Keizer City Council, which would have the final decision about putting a ballot measure in front of voters next fall.

One slight problem: some councilors question that plan.

Current councilor and former mayor Dennis Koho in particular has been against the idea. Koho questioned Parks Board chair Richard Walsh during the Nov. 18 council meeting and had further questions after seeing the proposed flier for February’s hearing.

“The Parks Board is not a taxing authority,” Koho wrote in a Dec. 7 e-mail to Parks Board members and councilors, among others. “If the city wants to consider a tax it is the council that should conduct a hearing. In my opinion, the Parks Board is completely without authority to mail this and conduct a hearing on taxation. It would need council approval and I would hope the council would withhold approval and do the job itself.”

Councilor Marlene Quinn, the liaison to the Parks Board, had a different view.

They are not the taxing base, they are just asking the public if they would like to see extra funding for the parks and, if so, what,” Quinn wrote on Dec. 9. “I see no problem with this flyer.”

Walsh responded to Koho on Dec. 10, opining the Parks Board is merely fulfilling its charge from the council.

“I agree that we do not have any taxing authority, but I thought that the Parks Board was expected to research and make a recommendation before the Council would decide the issue of changing the level of support and revenue for parks,” Walsh wrote.

The issue was discussed more during Tuesday’s Parks Board meeting. Minutes before the meeting started, Koho sent another e-mail to Walsh.

“I believe the council knows how to say, in a committee’s charge, ‘and advise the council on the amount and method of taxation,’” Koho wrote. “The charge did not say that and I believe that was intentional.

The (Parks Board) unfortunately started with a proposal for a specific tax in a specific amount. That is unfortunate as it now appears the committee is working its way backwards. I encourage you to recommend a plan for parks and put a price tag to it. I hope the board does not recommend a specific tax plan. Leave that to the council where we will also look at the city’s other needs.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, it was suggested a multi-year levy – which could be no more than five years – could be a viable option, in place of a fee on the water bill as has been discussed in the past.

“You’re still an independent body,” Quinn said Tuesday. “You can go out and get public opinion. It’s about how you sell it to us.”

Walsh will talk with councilors during their meeting next Monday, Dec. 16.

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