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Chevron refinery blaze costs Richmond millions

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Last summer’s Chevron Richmond refinery blaze is expected to cost the city and West Contra Costa school district millions of dollars in property tax revenues because lost business income has resulted in a huge decline in the facility's assessed value.

There has been a 14.61% decline in the assessed value of properties in Richmond. Richmond City Manager, Bill Lindsay, has estimated that the lowered assessment will cost the city US$ 6.1 million in tax revenues this fiscal year.

Richmond’s decline has been driven largely by the change in the refinery’s valuation; County Assessor, Gus Kramer, said that his office valued the Richmond refinery at approximately US$ 2.75 billion in 2013 – 2014, compared with approximately US$ 3.75 billion the previous year. The city as a whole was given a net assessed value of US$ 10.89 billion, a decline of more than US$ 1.86 billion.

In contrast, every other city in the county saw an increased in assessed value. Indeed, the total assessed property value in the county as a whole rose 3.45%, approximately US$ 5 billion.

Richmond council members have been discussing in closed session whether to sue Chevron for damages to the city from the blaze. More than 15 000 people sought medical treatment after the 6th August fire.

Chevron spokeswoman, Melissa Ritchie, has indicated that the company believes Kramer’s valuation to be ‘a much more reasonable assessment of the values of [the] facility’; the company has been in disagreement with Kramer in the past. A county assessment appeals board rules that the refinery’s taxable value as set by Kramer in 2004 – 2006 was too high. Chevron received a US$ 17.8 million refund, but sued anyway, arguing that it wasn’t enough.

Chevron additionally sought a US$ 73 million property tax refund for 2007 – 2009. However, on this occasion, the appeals board ruled that the company has paid to little, a ruling that cost the company US$ 27 million.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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