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Ex-commissioner moves to block Cob

A former Klamath County commissioner has come up with an idea that could block tax relief for the proposed Cob Energy Facility, if his concept is successfully placed on the ballot before voters.

Clif McMillan, a former commissioner who was recalled by voters in 1996, has submitted a proposed ballot measure that asks voters to overturn any economic deal the Board of Klamath County Commissioners makes with the Cob facility.

A representative for Cob has asked the county to grant the power plant $71 million in property tax breaks over 15 years, in exchange for a payment of $1 million a year in lieu of taxes.

For the economic deal to work, the Klamath Falls City Council would first have to approve an extension of the enterprise zone to the power plant location. County commissioners would also have to agree to the extension, and then decide whether to accept Cob's tax proposal or counter with their own offer.

McMillan's ballot measure would ask voters whether the Cob facility "should be denied property tax preference and other economic incentive and support from Klamath County."

County Clerk Linda Smith said McMillan's proposal must first be reviewed to make sure it addresses only one item, as required by the Oregon Constitution. The county's district attorney must then review the ballot title and make any changes that are necessary. Signature sheets would have to be approved as well.

After all those steps were complete, McMillan could begin collecting signatures for the ballot measure. According to state statute, 1,292 valid signatures would need to be collected to put the issue on the ballot.

However, if commissioners approve an economic deal with Cob before the measure goes on the ballot, the signatures would have to be verified no later than 90 days after the deal took effect. In that case, only 861 signatures would be required.

Smith said at this point, getting the measure on the November ballot would be very difficult. Everything would have to be approved by Sept. 2. The next scheduled election is in March; supporters of McMillan's measure would have until early January to collect signatures to make that deadline.






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

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