COOS BAY — A group of area leaders decided it was right the first time when it comes to Jordan Cove’s annual property tax exemption renewal.

Last month, the Community Enhancement Plan work group considered a clause that would have given Jordan Cove the opportunity to let their property tax exemption expire after seven years, halting community service fee payments and ending the CEP.

On Monday, the group decided the first draft of the agreement between the four Bay Area Enterprise Zone sponsors was better: Make Jordan Cove commit to the full 15 years of community service fee payments.

The renewal provision now reads:

“The zone sponsors hereby set the period of the property tax exemption for purposes of ORS 285C.409(1)(c) to be 15 consecutive years, notwithstanding any shorter period that may be allowed by law.”

But North Bend City Attorney Mike Stebbins, who drafted the agreement, was concerned that this “does not put an end date to the property tax exemption period.”

“The paragraph simply allows an automatic renewal with no final end to the property tax exemption,” Stebbins wrote to Margaret Barber at Coos Curry Douglas Business Development Corporation. “I fear that this runs a foul (sic) of the state statutes. I do not know what has been discussed with Jordan Cove about an end date, but this should be negotiated and written into this paragraph.”

A long-term rural enterprise zone property tax exemption can last seven to 15 years, according to state statute, but the proposed agreement with Jordan Cove would lock them in for the full 15 years of community service fee payments.

“The original thought was that would be something necessary to negotiate this contract,” work group chair Jennifer Groth said of the draft giving Jordan Cove an opportunity to not renew its property tax exemption. “My understanding is that’s no longer the case.”

Instead of Jordan Cove having to start a renewal process each year after the seven-year mark, the agreement will automatically renew unless one of the enterprise zone sponsors makes a move to end it.

The work group also needs to set in stone a process for how the multimillion-dollar checks will flow after they leave Jordan Cove’s hands, said work group member John Sweet.

The county assessor will determine how much Jordan Cove pays every year once it’s operational. The community service fee will be based on the facility’s annual assessed value. The work group also needs to determine how that money will be distributed to the various CEP entities so CCD can cut checks as quickly as possible, Sweet said.

Jordan Cove will write one check annually to the CCD (the enterprise zone manager). CCD will then cut checks to the entities outlined in the Community Enhancement Plan: the South Coast Community Foundation, Waterfront Development Partnership, Coos County and the other North Spit taxing entities.

SCCF and WDP’s boards need to independently determine how to spend those dollars, on education or economic development needs, respectively.

Work group member Mike Erbele said it’s important to minimize the number of agencies who have their hands on the money.

Reporter Chelsea Davis can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 239, or by email at chelsea.davis@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @ChelseaLeeDavis.

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