Posted on May 12,
Chevron, Richmond, reach accord
more at www.richmondconfidential.org
In a move that could impact the city's highly-anticipated
campaign season, Chevron Corp. and city leaders on Tuesday
brokered a tax deal that markedly eases tensions between the
energy giant and the city.
"This deal provides some certainty via negotiated settlement,
rather than the ballot box," said Marilyn Langlois, a community
advocate in Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's office. "This is a very
positive step for the city."
Chevron and the city have jousted for years over how much
tax the refinery should pay. Those disagreements began boiling
over this year.
First, Chevron officials began issuing cryptic public statements
hinting that the refinery could close if the costs of doing
business in Richmond reduced its competitiveness.
Last month, Chevron helped sponsor a signature-drive to secure
a ballot measure that promised to slash in half utility taxes
across the city, a move the city said would cut Chevron's tax
bill by at least $10 million.
The City Council responded with its own measure seeking to
eliminate an alternative maximum payment option, a move that
could have meant millions more in local taxes on the energy
But the agreement reached Tuesday appears to avert what was
destined to become a bitter, costly battle for voters in November.
Part of the agreement includes both parties' pledge to withdraw
their dueling ballot measures.
"We hope that the cooperation displayed by both sides will
also help guide possible future discussions on matters important
to the City and the Refinery," said Mike Coyle, general manager
of Chevronâ€™s Richmond refinery. "We are all interested in
what is best for Richmond."
But the high praise from both sides belies the tough negotiations
needed to ground out an agreement, which will guarantee the
city $114 million over the next 15 years on top of its current
Among Chevron's victories is a stipulation that insulates
the corporation from any new voter-approved taxes and the city's
agreement to drop its appeal of a court decision on 2008â€™s
Measure T tax initiative.
"The city did ask for substantially more than $114 million," Langlois
City negotiators were also unsuccessful in trying to get Chevron
agree to cease attempts to have property assessment values
reduced on their 2,900-acre refinery, Langlois said.
"As in all settlement agreements, the city did not win everything
it rightfully deserves," Councilman Tom Butt wrote in a statement
published in the Berkeley Daily Planet.
Precisely how the agreement plays out in November remains
to be seen. McLaughlin, who leads a coalition on the City Council
that has a reputation for sparring with Chevron, faces re-election,
as do council allies Jim Rogers and Ludmyrna Lopez. National
environmental figures including former Obama Administration
official Anthony "Van" Jones have traveled to Richmond to express
support for McLaughlin, who is the only Green Party mayor of
a city of more than 100,000 in the country.
Many residents and observers wonder how heavily Chevron will
weigh in on those races.
In a press release issued today that hails the agreement,
McLaughlin showed no hints of softening her rhetoric.
"This agreement reflects the efforts of the incredible progressive
community of Richmond who have taken on corporate power and
wrested unprecedented concessions" from Chevron, McLaughlin
Posted By: Richmond
| May 12 2010 at 02:07 PM
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/incontracosta/detail?&entry_id=63434#ixzz0nx2Xk1nq