Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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seeks 15-year tax-free deal
Cob Energy Facility
spokesman Rob Trotta is looking for a 15-year
tax-free deal, in which the company would contribute
$1 million a year to the county instead of paying
any property taxes.
Local opponents of the
power plant have vowed they will appeal any siting
approval to the Oregon Supreme Court.
Klamath Falls and
Klamath County must both approve the proposed
115-acre addition for anything to occur; the City
Council meets at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 to consider the
extension, while county commissioners will vote on
the extension at a hearing set for 10 a.m. Aug. 24.
Commissioner Steve West
has opposed the power plant for more than a year,
and opposes the extension of the enterprise zone.
Commissioner John Elliott is in favor of an
extension, but unsure how much of a tax break to
grant Cob. Commissioner Al Switzer was at a
On the surface, the
deal offered by Cob looks like a financial debacle
for Klamath County. While the county would receive
$15 million in contributions over a 15-year period,
it would be losing $71.3 million in property tax
payments, according to an analysis done earlier this
year by Klamath County Assessor Reg LeQuieu.
So why offer Cob a tax
break at all?
Trotta said the county
should grant a fair deal to Cob because the power
plant has been a "good corporate citizen," and
implemented changes at the community's request, such
as switching to an air-cooled design instead of
water-cooled, which would have used 10 million
gallons of water a day.
"This is now, this is
reality. You've been to those budget hearings.
Things are not good there. Here's a real
opportunity. Not discussion or concept. Real."
Trotta said he isn't
planning to accept any proposal more costly than his
$1 million a year plan. He said the county
commissioners already voted in November 2002 to
accept the plan.
To qualify now, Cob
simply has to hire at least 10 full-time employees
at 150 percent of the county's annual wage and
invest more than $200 million in capital
construction. Since sponsoring the bill, Garrard has
started harboring doubts about his legislation.
Garrard, a former
Klamath County commissioner, said he's no longer
sure the plant should be sited. He said if he were
voting Aug. 24 on the enterprise zone, he would
"The few permanent jobs that it's going to bring to Cob doesn't seem compatible to the idea that the enterprise zone is," said Lyn Brock, a member of anti-Cob group Save Our Rural Oregon. "I thought the enterprise zone was to create a great number of new jobs."
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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