Response to Chevron's UUT Initiative


Councilmembers Myrna Lopez,  Jeff Ritterman,  Jim Rogers:


Decades ago Chevron got a tax loophole which now lets them save roughly $15-20 million per year by paying a lower percent on their Utility Tax than regular Richmond taxpayers.

  When the City Council unanimously put the Stop Chevron's Perks on this November's ballot, Chevron trotted out the argument that this was "Chevron-bashing". After their polling revealed this argument wasn't getting any traction (because voters understand that letting Chevron save millions at the expense of Richmond residents who end up paying the bill would be "taxpayer-bashing"), Chevron is  now going to place their own initiative on the ballot to try to preserve their tax loophole by confusing voters and sinking both measures.

There they go again.

As we write this, we don't know the details of where they're going with their counter-initiative, but  you can bet it will try to distract voters from a simple question: should Chevron be allowed to pay a lower percent on their utility tax than you and I?

Chevron knows that voters wouldn't be happy about a tax loophole for Chevron in any year, but especially not in a year when Richmond is laying off employees and cutting back on  pothole repairs, due to State tax grabs and the slow economy.

We have no shortage of ideas on how to reverse the  tragic homicide rate, which is predictably high during the recession: police, keeping the schools open that are slated to be closed (Kennedy, Grant, and Olinda), paramedic services, neighborhood outreach workers, job-training, library services, parks and recreation, encouraging new employers by fixing our City's blight and potholes, etc.

But we have a shortage of money to make those ideas happen.

If you appreciate the jobs and tax base Chevron brings to Richmond (as we do), then buy from Chevron even when its a few pennies more per gallon (as we do.)

We can afford that.

But don't sign any initiative that gives Chevron a loophole to keep their $15-20 million per year perk.

We can't afford that.

Councilmember Myrna Lopez
Councilmember Jeff Ritterman
Councilmember Jim Rogers


Councilmember Tom Butt:


In a face slap beyond cynical, Chevron filed their utility user tax  ballot measure yesterday, deceptively entitled "City of Richmond Utility Users Tax Reform Act,"  that would hold Chevron's tax payment at approximately the current minimum level while cutting everyone else's in half and exempting low income persons and persons over 60. Click here for a copy.

Why is this cynical? Richmond receives about 25% of its general fund revenue from utility user taxes. Chevron's measure would not only artificially cap the amount Chevron pays; it would reduce the total utility tax revenue by at least $10 million and maybe as much as $15 million. That wouldn't just punish the City Council; it would punish every resident and business in Richmond by causing layoffs of police and firefighters, increasing potholes, abandoning park maintenance and generally forcing the condition of the City and the quality of life of its residents to decline. In fact, it could drive the City into bankruptcy or reduce services to the extent Richmond could no longer function effectively.

Chevron's ploy, of course, is to convince voters to act selfishly to reduce their own taxes while taking care of Chevron.

This ballot measure is so vicious and so potentially devastating that it is a clear metaphor for the visceral hate that Chevron, the corporation, must have for the people of Richmond. This is not just my perspective. See the editorial below entitled "There They go Again" from Councilmembers Rogers, Lopez and Ritterman.

In addition to mounting this greedy initiative, Chevron continues to assault City and County treasuries with property tax appeals and other litigation. See the story about the already devastated Contra Costa County having to return $18 million to Chevron. Yes, this is the same financially strapped county we live in that is laying off sheriff deputies and prosecutors so that crime can increase with impunity in West County.

Councilmember Tom Butt