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Three judges bow out of Cob decision


By BROOK REINHARD - H&N Staff Writer

Three local judges have removed themselves for potential conflicts of interest from considering a proposed ballot measure to cut off tax incentives and support from Klamath County for the Cob Energy Facility near Bonanza.

It will probably be decided by an out-of-county judge in the next few weeks, Trial Court Administrator Val Paulson said.

Former Klamath County Commissioner Clif McMillan recently submitted a petition to Klamath County Clerk Linda Smith that seeks to overturn "property tax preference and other economic incentive and support from Klamath County" for a proposed 1,160-megawatt power facility planned for the Bonanza area. Smith ruled the petition invalid, and McMillan appealed.

County commissioners are scheduled to vote on a proposal Aug. 24 to grant a property tax break for the power plant in exchange for locating in Klamath County and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs.

McMillan's petition, if approved for the ballot, would ask voters to decide whether the county could support the Cob Energy Facility, which would use natural gas to generate electricity.

Smith ruled Monday that McMillan's petition was invalid because it addressed more than one issue.

Smith said her reading of the petition was that the Cob project would be denied property tax preference, as well as other economic incentives and support from the county, such as building a road or improving infrastructure.

"That means he doesn't want the county to do anything for the Cob project," Smith said. "It's more than just the tax issue. I'm assuming he wants all those things to happen - not just a tax issue."

Ballot measures must raise a single issue with voters under the Oregon Constitution.

McMillan appealed Smith's interpretation of his petition to Circuit Court Tuesday. Judges Cameron Wogan, Richard Rambo and Rodger Isaacson have removed themselves from the case.

"I will be looking for a judge in another county to make a trade for us," Paulson said.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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