continues the attack
More Property Tax Refunds
All of us concerned about the city's
ability to provide necessary services breathed a sigh of relief when we
learned that the County assessors board rejected Chevron's demand for a
refund on its property taxes and actually ruled that Chevron
was under-assessed and must pay more. (See story on victory)
But don't go to sleep. We have
not won yet.
- The previous appeal
aboard awarded Chevron part of what they demanded for the years
2004-2006 and Chevron is appealing in the courts demanding still
- Chevron is likely to
appeal the recent 2007-2009 decision, although no official
announcement has been made.
- Now Chevron has just
started appealing the 2010-2011 assessment.
Chevron keeps trying to bully the
county and the city with its army of lawyers. As the recent
appeals hearings show, public attention helps counterbalance the impact
of corporate lawyers who can play the inside game.
But it means we must keep it up.
Chevron is sensitive to public opinion, which explains why it
spends so much on its ad campaigns. We have to continually remind them
that continuing the appeals and similar legal bullying does not
make it a good neighbor.
Most of the members of the City
Council recognize this and supported a resolution to ask Chevron to
drop its appeals. (Booze absented himself). Recently whenever a
criticism of Chevron comes up, Bates and Booze become apologists
for Chevron, choosing to tout Chevron's handful of jobs to Richmond
residents and modest donations to local non-profits, while ignoring its
on-going attempts to financially cripple the City with its unrelenting
pursuit of huge property tax refunds.
If we are not to be strangled by
Chevron's bullying, the city must stand united as it did in the
campaign for LBNL and tell Chevron to Drop these Appeals.
day of Chevron's New Appeal
16, the Chevron Corporation appeared before
the three-member Contra Costa Property Tax Assessment Appeals
Board in Martinez and, as announced, appealed its taxes
for 2010 and 2011.
Yes, we mean the same Chevron
that was just ordered by the same panel to pay an additional
$26 million to the county for 2007-09. The machine that
is the Chevron Corporation plunges ahead full steam, while
the lives of the residents of Contra Costa county are so
much collateral damage.
Monday was the preliminary
hearing, and Chevron made some procedural requests. The most
important were that Chevron asked the board to grant it a waiver
to get more time for its lawyers, Pillsbury, etc. to prepare and
present their case. Chevron's lawyer argued that the panel
should wait to hear the results of the Superior Court decision on its
appeal of the 2004-2006 first decision that awarded it a
refund of $17 million dollars when it wanted $50 million
The county's lawyers, Mr. Lally and
Mr. Makin, fought to keep the next Chevron hearing within a
reasonable amount of time since, after months of
hearings, the current panel is
now extremely knowledgeable about refinery procedures, costs
By stalling as long as possible,
Chevron hoped to achieve a) a court decision favorable to the second
third appeal and b) (unsaid but obvious) the
replacement of one of the panel members who in its recent surprise decision voted
unanimously to levy Chevron an additional $26 million.
One darkly humorous moment
occurred over how to bundle the appeal years.
Chevron argued that it
was always better to treat its appeals in batches of
three years. The county argued that doing so would give Chevron
greater ability to "bludgeon" the county and
intimidate its residents. Mr. Honig accused Mr.
Lally of making this a "political" issue when it was simply
one of "law."
was that Chevron, like every other property owner, will
not receive its 2012 tax bill until next year, but everyone
knows that given its belligerent, avaricious history, Chevron will
appeal it whatever the assessment. In the end,
the appeal panel agreed with Chevron's request to bundle
2010, 2011, and 2012 together should Chevron decide to
appeal. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
During the lengthy periods of appeal,
the cities, the county and the school district will follow the
"responsible" policy of not spending the money. Given the economic
situation, they will be placed under greater pressure to
settle out of court on future property taxes or possibly other Chevron
demands having nothing to do with taxes. Chevron's profits give it
the cash so it keeps on with this legal bullying for as long as it
takes. The communities do not have that kind of cash
Chevron is still "deciding"
whether it will appeal the just rendered decision that not only let's
us keep our money, but puts fresh money in our general funds. There is
still time to let them know, we want them to drop ALL appeals and with
Richmond will rally against Chevron's
gluttony on Friday, April 20 beginning at 5:00 pm and meeting at the
Richmond BART and marching to Civic Center.