NORTH BEND — The South Coast Community Foundation has two approvals in the bag and two to go.
The North Bend City Council voted unanimously at its Tuesday night meeting to become a member in SCCF, the nonprofit organization established to manage half of the community service fees the Jordan Cove Energy Project would pay if it gets federal and state permits and if it receives a long-term property tax exemption.
The proposed fee distribution and management is detailed in a Community Enhancement Plan, which needs approval from all four enterprise zone sponsors: the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend, Coos County, and the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay.
The approval also includes inducting Bill Lansing, Joanne Verger and John Whitty as the initial foundation directors; ratifying the foundation’s updated bylaws; and appointing a citizen to serve alongside the three initial directors.
The council's vote follows the Port board of commissioners' unanimous opt-in last week, and largely mimicked it. There was little discussion and a quick tally of "ayes."
Councilor Timm Slater spoke up, though, praising the Community Enhancement Plan.
"I think this is a very well thought out way to utilize monies here in Coos County and the Reedsport area for our school systems," Slater said. "It makes a whole lot more sense to do that than send them off to Salem — and however they're going to use it."
He agreed with Southwestern Oregon Community College president emeritus Dr. Stephen Kridelbaugh's guest editorial in Tuesday's World, calling for a mission statement and specific goals for the plan.
"There ought to be a vision of what it's going to be and the purpose of what it's going to accomplish," Slater said. "I think this is part of that process to develop that. It's a very positive step, a very unique step and a very unique opportunity."
Opponents say they're beginning to tire of trying to engage healthy debate with no response or acknowledgment.
Citizens Against LNG executive director Jody McCaffree again cautioned the council not to rush into anything, and hold off on signing on to the community foundation until a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling comes down. McCaffree has been one of the biggest voices in the anti-LNG movement over the last decade.
"It's like talking to a brick wall," said opponent J.C. Williams.
Two votes remain: Coos Bay City Council and Coos County commissioners.
"I really don't think I'm ready to take a position on the Community Enhancement Plan," said Coos Bay Mayor Crystal Shoji last week. "I'm certainly not opposed at this point but we will be having a public hearing and we will make our decision at that time. I just want to hear what the citizens in Coos Bay have to say and go from there."
County commissioner Melissa Cribbins said no one has even approached her yet about getting a decision from the county. The community foundation was not on the commissioners' Tuesday morning agenda.
"Frankly, I am still studying the Community Enhancement Plan. I have concerns about funding streams for our local taxing district," Cribbins said last week. "...If and when Jordan Cove comes in it's going to be a burden on local law enforcement. We need to make sure we can manage that large influx of workers we're looking at coming in over that five-year period. In my opinion, law enforcement needs to be our top priority. The plan needs to be viewed with an eye toward that, making sure we take care of that funding piece. Other priorities are community economic development and of course, education always remains a priority."