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Cob wins enterprise zone OK
February 25, 2005
Klamath County commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to
allow tax breaks for a power plant near Bonanza.
However, they did not reach an agreement with the
power company on the specifics of the breaks.
The commissioners and Peoples Energy, the plant's
developer, are talking about a deal in which the
plant would be exempt from property taxes and the
county would get cash payments instead.
The vote did not include a decision on what the
terms of the zone would be, but Cob representative
Paul Turner said he would stand by his latest
Next, the question goes to the Klamath Falls City
Council, and then to state officials. Then it will
return to the county for final action.
"I do not feel the need to provide you with tax
incentives, as your field representative
hand-picked this location, so there was no
competition for this site," he said.
Brown said he reached his conclusion after talking
to education officials.
Elliott said he liked to think that Klamath County
was competitive in getting new industry. He said
that even after the plant's tax breaks expire in
15 years, the facility's tax bill will be twice as
large as any other in the county.
Decisions he had to make during the water crisis
of 2001 were the only others that have been as
gut-wrenching as this one, he said.
Turner has offered a payment equal to half of the
assessed property tax value, up from a previous
offer of a straight $1 million a year.
In return, commissioners countered with three
Switzer asked for a set amount of $2.8 million and
Elliott asked for $3 million. Both said they
didn't want the amount to hinge on the size of the
Switzer said it would be preferable to get a set
amount each year, instead of figuring out every
year what it would be. Elliott worried that if
Peoples Energy went off a state-assessed property
value, there would be disagreements and the
process would end in a legal battles.
Before coming to a decision, commissioners heard
from the Bonanza Fire Department and about an hour
and a half of public comments from people both for
and against extending the enterprise zone.
Turner invited to pay for a ticket to fly
firefighters to one of Peoples' other plants to
see what sort of fire prevention systems they
"I keep wondering, and people keep asking me, if
you have any integrity," she said. "Do you
represent the majority? No. This is all about the
Elliott and Switzer later in the meeting declined
to respond to comments questioning their
integrity. Switzer said he would prefer to
disagree in a gentlemanly fashion and was
disappointed by the personal jabs.
Klamath County Chamber of Commerce Director
Stephanie Bailey defended the integrity of the
commissioners and the Chamber's decision to
support the plant after it was changed from a
water-cooled to an air-cooled operation.
Bailey also reiterated a point she made in a
previous meeting that in a survey of the Chamber's
550 members, a fifth responded to a question about
extending the enterprise zone, and 87 percent of
those were in favor.
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