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COOS COUNTY — Local sponsors of the Jordan Cove Enterprise Zone met recently to discuss allocations of funds through the Jordan Cove Community Enhancement Plan.

A meeting was held last week to discuss enterprise zone sponsors coming to an agreement on how to spend Community Enhancement Plan funds, but the members did not agree on the proposed options. The plan will now go back to a committee to be renegotiated.

The Jordan Cove Enterprise Zone has four local sponsors in Coos Bay, North Bend, Coos County and the Port of Coos Bay. A long standing enterprise zone, the Jordan Cove Enterprise Zone was established many years ago when discussion of the project began in the early 2000s.

If a company can promise a certain amount of investment in an enterprise zone in the form of tax revenue and job creation, they then qualify for a couple years of tax exemption. However, in Jordan Cove’s case, the project's officials have requested an extended tax exemption period of 10 years. Tax exemption extensions have to be approved by all representatives of the enterprise zone.  

As an incentive to allow Jordan Cove to extend its tax exemption, the company offered to make payments equal to what it would pay in taxes as part of a Community Enhancement Plan. It is the responsibility of the sponsors in the enterprise zone to divide those monies among themselves during the tax exemption period.

“We’ve got something now that not all of the partners agree with, so we’re going to continue to negotiate to find a plan we do all agree with,” Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said.

Since Pembina took over the Jordan Cove Energy Project a couple of years ago, the sponsors must reevaluate the CEP.

The initial plan was to spend half of the CEP payments on education in the area.

“One of the plan's components is that 50 percent of the revenue that would come in would be going to a foundation which would be used to provide funds to school districts from Reedsport down to Langlois,” Craddock said.

Another quarter of the payments would go toward overlapping taxing districts to pay for services provided by the representatives of the enterprise zone.

The final 25 percent of the Jordan Cove Community Enhancement Plan payments were to be split equally between the Waterfront Development Partnership and local taxing districts, the idea being that this money would go toward developing economic infrastructure.

Coos County and Coos Bay no longer entirely agree with the contents of the original agreement. While they still would like to provide half of the funds to the schools along the South Coast, the Waterfront Development Partnership vastly limits how the entities are able to spend the money they’re receiving.

“The city of Coos Bay believes that it has demonstrated it knows how to utilize economic development dollars through things like its urban renewal agencies, and it believes it knows how to best use those dollars to the benefit of our city,” Craddock said.

An agreement that city officials in Coos Bay have voiced interest in is a plan that still gives 50 percent of the funds to schools, 25 percent to the overlapping taxing districts, and the final 25 percent of funds would be split four ways and given to each enterprise zone representative to develop economic infrastructure however each entity sees fit.  

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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