The oil giant owns nearly 1,000 acres, about one-third of El Segundo's 2,957 acres of commercial property, yet generates only about 10 percent of the general fund revenue. Perhaps more telling was the decision by the City Council not to ask voters to consider a nearly nine-fold tax hike on the Chevron oil refinery. Instead, they entered into negotiations with Chevron. Big story in the Daily Breeze lays out the concerns of how the company gets treated.
The now-fired city manager who brought the tax plan to the council - Doug Willmore - said he believes his ouster was retaliatory. His attorney plans to file a claim challenging the council's 3-2 vote on Feb. 9 to dismiss him. And old records circulating around City Hall - some of which were released last week to the media - have raised suspicions about a deal city officials struck with Chevron 18 years ago to settle a tax dispute. That agreement came after an auditing firm suggested the refinery owed El Segundo several million dollars in unpaid taxes. The city ultimately suspended the firm's work, and the resulting settlement with Chevron yielded a couple hundred thousand dollars that were turned over to the auditor.
Rod Spackman, Chevron's government and public affairs manager, denied the company had any role in Willmore's departure - a move that came with little explanation from the town's elected leaders because of personnel privacy issues. (However, at least one official has said the acreage tax hike - supported by three council members, one of whom voted to fire Willmore - is unrelated.) "Any suggestion by any individual that we would ever attempt to bring in any way pressure to the city about a personnel decision ... is simply not true," Spackman said. "We just simply would never do that. We would never do anything along the lines of what you've suggested."