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Petition Drive for Refinery Tax Apparently Successful

A new ballot measure, which salvages the least controversial component of Measure T of 2007, is currently the subject of a low profile but apparently fruitful petition drive by volunteers. See Petition Drive Seeks to Place Refinery Tax on Ballot, September 29, 2007, and the following story from February 28 West County Times:


Initiative Group Awaits count


RICHMOND: Backers of manufacturers fee submit signatures, wait for verification to get measure on the ballot

By Katherine Tam


Article Launched: 02/28/2008 03:14:01 AM PST


Proponents of a Richmond manufacturers fee submitted thousands of signatures this week with the aim of qualifying a measure for the November ballot.

At least 3,569 valid signatures, representing 10 percent of the city's 35,696 registered voters, are needed, City Clerk Diane Holmes said.

She will count the signatures, then forward them within 30 days to the county clerk for verification that each corresponds to a living Richmond resident. The county has 30 days to complete its work, Holmes said.

"I'm confident that the Richmond citizens initiative has gathered enough valid signatures to be placed in the ballot," Juan Reardon, a lead proponent, said Wednesday. "The support for the measure has been overwhelming."

The Richmond Progressive Alliance, a residents' group composed mostly of Green Party members and progressive Democrats, is proposing to charge manufacturers, such as Chevron, a materials fee to generate revenue for public services.

Manufacturers would pay a quarter-percent of the value of the raw materials they use each year if it is more than the annual business license fee they pay now. The measure would generate $16 million a year for the city general fund, which pays for police, road repairs, parks and other public services.

Residents bear the brunt of the effects of local manufacturing such as air emissions, but the companies do not give enough back to the community, supporters say. Opponents from the business sector argue that the measure could scare new businesses from coming to Richmond.

If it qualifies for the November ballot, the measure would need a simple majority vote to pass.

The proposal is similar to Measure T, which voters defeated in 2006. That measure would have generated $8.5 million annually by raising business license fees, charging large rental property owners more and setting a fee for raw materials brought in for manufacturing.

Unlike Measure T, the new initiative would not increase the business license tax nor would it affect small businesses, which would continue to pay the annual business license fee, nonmanufacturing businesses or apartment landlords.

New manufacturers would be exempt for up to their first 18 months, according to the proposal and the city attorney's analysis of the item.

Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.