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Local business owners speak in favor of Cob, H&N 1/26/05
(This article does not tell you that, at the previous Commissioners meeting, the opponents of COB were not allowed to speak and were told that they could only talk at the Public Hearing on February 1st.  So they didn't attend the January 25 meeting. KBC)

 January 26, 2005


Several business owners appeared before Klamath County commissioners Tuesday to urge them to grant an extension of an enterprise zone that would give tax breaks to a proposed power plant.

Alan Eberlein, a lifelong Klamath County resident and local business owner, said it would be shortsighted to hamstring any development for the Cob Energy Facility that may be built in the Langell Valley.

"All we have to do is say yes to get the benefits," he said.

The six people who made comments during the meeting were local business owners and employees, most of whom had heard a presentation on the enterprise zone by a Cob representative during a Klamath County Rotary Club meeting.

Cob developer Peoples Energy is seeking a change in the Klamath Falls Enterprise Zone boundary to include the power plant site, making it eligible for property tax relief.

The group was previously seeking a $1 million annual payment for 15 years in exchange for exemption from property tax liability, estimated at $71.3 million.

In a county commissioner meeting last week, Peoples Energy representative Paul Turner proposed a new deal that would have the company paying half of the assessed tax value.

Turner estimated that would be $3.2 million the first year, and by the end of 15 years would be $2.4 million.

The company also proposed paying $300,000 a year to Klamath County Economic Development to be used for a rotating loan fund for new and expanding local businesses.

The proposed natural gas-fired plant would generate about 1,150-megawatts of electricity, and would be located three miles southeast of Bonanza and 21 miles east of downtown Klamath Falls.

Kirth Glick, who serves on the county's budget committee, said the county needs the money the plant would provide.

"If we don't receive those dollars, we could be laying people off," he said.

Klamath County School District board member Gary Weldon said the plant would bring much needed revenue into the school system.

"With Cob, there's the option for the tax offset to fund schools," he said. "We have kids sitting in classrooms with coats on, because there's no heating."

Shilo Inn owner Lowell Pratt, Waste Management District Manager Chris Carey and W&H Pacific employee Travis Foster all said their businesses would see an increase if the Cob plant were to be built.

Economic Development Director Trey Senn also read a statement prepared by his group's board that he would not pursue any other power plants for the Langell Valley.

No Cob opponents attended the meeting.

Commissioner Al Switzer expressed surprise, saying he had heard some Langell Valley residents were planning on attending.

Switzer also reacted to criticism that commissioners don't allow enough opportunity for public comment during meetings.

"We have been fairly lenient taking public comment in our public meetings," he said, and called the proceeding surrounding the Cob power plant "painfully" open.

Commissioners will have a public hearing to discuss the proposed enterprise zone Tuesday 10 a.m. at the Government Center.

People wishing to speak will be allowed up to five minutes.

The meeting will be televised live on cable channel 3 in Klamath Falls, and will be rebroadcast today at 7 p.m.


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