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  Hearing Opens Monday on Chevron's $58 million Property Tax Appeal
October 27, 2011

October 26, 2011 05:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time 

Chevron Announces 3.8 Percent Increase in Quarterly Dividend

SAN RAMON, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Board of Directors of Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) today declared a quarterly dividend of eighty-one cents ($0.81) per share, payable December 12, 2011, to holders of common stock as shown by the transfer records of the corporation at the close of business on November 18, 2011. The amount represents a 3.8 percent increase in the company's quarterly dividend and the second dividend increase in 2011. Combined, the two actions represent a 12.5 percent annual increase in the company’s quarterly dividend.
“Dividend increases are a very important way to share Chevron’s success with its shareholders. This second increase in 2011 reflects the company’s strong performance and financial position, as well as our confidence that the projects we are undertaking will allow us to continue to grow production, earnings and cash flow.”
Chairman and CEO John Watson said, “Dividend increases are a very important way to share Chevron’s success with its shareholders. This second increase in 2011 reflects the company’s strong performance and financial position, as well as our confidence that the projects we are undertaking will allow us to continue to grow production, earnings and cash flow.”
Chevron has increased its annual dividend 24 consecutive years.
Chevron, a Dow stock, said profits jumped 43% in Q2 as higher oil & gasoline prices made up for a decline in oil production.  EPS was $3.85 up from $2.70.  Revenue increased 31% to $66.7B.  Analysts had expected EPS of $3.51.  The profit was the largest since it set a company record of $7.9B in Q3 of 2008, mirroring similar big gains for other major oil companies.  US oil prices increased 46% & 51% internationally in Q2.  Natural gas prices increased 8% in the US & 25% internationally.  These increases helped boost revenue despite a decline in production.  Production was 2.69M barrels per day, down from 2.75M last year.  The company ramped up oil & gas production from new projects in Canada & the US which was offset by a decline in output from mature fields & a slowdown in its intl production business.  The stock fell 36¢. 

Chevron 2Q profit jumps 43 percent AP

Chevron Corporation (CVX)

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Hearing opens Monday on Chevron’s $58 million property tax appeal

Chevron's Richmond refinery, seen from Nichol Hill. The company argues that it has paid too much in property taxes on the facility. (photo by: Robert Rogers)
By: Rachel Waldholz | October 23, 2011 – 2:06 pm
Chevron will present its case for a $58 million tax refund before an appeals board on Monday, as the company seeks to prove that it overpaid property taxes on its Richmond refinery between 2007 and 2009.
The hearing before the County’s Assessment Appeals Board – which listens to the cases of property owners who believe that the county has overvalued their land and thus charged too much in taxes — represents the next step in a four-year battle. Chevron believes the county has overvalued its Richmond refinery by nearly $2 billion per year, a company spokesperson said in an email.
If the company succeeds in its appeal, it would create a “brutal situation” for the county and cities, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said.
“The city of Richmond stands to lose millions of dollars if this appeal is approved,” McLaughlin said, adding that the city would have to cut services to pay back the money.
County Assessor Gus Kramer, who has held the position since 1995, called the case a “phenomenon.”
“It is record setting,” he said. “It’s the largest appeal we’ve ever had.”
Chevron first appealed its property taxes in 2007, claiming that the County Assessor had overvalued the refinery from 2004-2006. The company asked for a refund of nearly $60 million from Contra Costa County, its cities, and its school, water and fire districts. In 2009, the Appeals Board ordered the county to refund about $18 million. In 2010, Chevron sued for more. That suit is currently before the Contra Costa Superior Court.
Chevron has also appealed its taxes for 2007-2010, and a spokesperson said in an email that the company is now deciding whether to appeal its 2011 taxes. The Assessment Appeals Board limits appeals to three-year increments, so on Monday the board will begin considering Chevron’s appeal for 2007-2009.
Chevron says that it was forced to appeal when the County raised its property taxes in 2004.
“We find it unreasonable that the County Tax Assessor determined that the total value of refinery property subject to tax more than doubled from $1.8B in 2003 to $4.8B in 2006,” Chevron said in a statement emailed to Richmond Confidential.
In 2003 — the last year that the County and Chevron agree on — the Assessor declared that the property was worth $1.9 billion. In 2004, the Assessor raised the value to $3.5 billion, and then to $4.8 billion by 2006.
Chevron argued in its last appeal that the property was actually worth $431 million in 2004, and $900 million in 2006. The Appeals Board’s 2009 ruling declared both Chevron’s and the Assessor’s numbers “unreasonable” and valued the property at about $2.2 billion each year.
The county stands by all of its original assessments, Kramer said.
“I don’t have an axe to grind with Chevron,” he said. “For God’s sake, my dad used to work for them. We all own stock in them.”
Kramer said that the refinery made major upgrades between 2002 and 2006 and took in record profits, and the value of the property increased accordingly. “Come on, just pay your fair share,” he said.
The Assessment Appeals Board is made up of five members, each appointed by a county supervisor, and the appeals board clerk chooses three members to hear each appeal. In this case the three will be Arthur Walenta, who was appointed by Richmond Supervisor John Gioia, and will chair the hearing; James Giacoma; and Clark Wallace. Wallace was on the board that heard the 2004-2006 appeal.
The hearing begins on Monday at 9 a.m. and is expected to run for five weeks. Most sessions will be open to the public and held at the board’s chambers at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.
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Chevron, Contra Costa County square off on property values

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 10/25/2011 06:10:00 AM PDT
Updated: 10/25/2011 05:56:34 PM PDT

MARTINEZ -- Opening arguments in Chevron's multimillion-dollar appeal of property taxes on its Richmond refinery were held Monday, setting the stage for another lengthy and politically charged fight over how much the oil giant should pay in Contra Costa County.
At stake is as much as $100 million in taxes Chevron says it overpaid from 2007 through 2009, money that struggling cities, and school, fire, water and other special districts may have to pay back if the Contra Costa Assessment Appeals Board agrees with Chevron.
Local governments already refunded Chevron $18 million after it prevailed in an appeal of its 2004-06 property valuation.
"If Chevron wins this appeal, it will mean layoffs, major cutbacks in services and would push us virtually to the edge of bankruptcy," said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin during a break in the morning session. "Cities are suffering and Chevron is making billions of dollars."
Chevron spokesman Dean O'Hair described the company's quest as one that will "get us to a fair and equitable method for determining how a refinery is valued so that we can remain an economic engine in the city of Richmond, provide jobs and pay taxes. Once we have done that, then we can deal with the issues of a refund."
The public was not permitted to speak at the quasi-judicial proceeding although a handful of well-behaved anti-Chevron protesters quietly brought signs into the hearing room. One read, "Despicable. Disgusting. Obscene."
The appeal is expected to take months as both sides roll out competing experts and seek to persuade the three-member appeals board of the merits of their respective arguments.
Chevron and the county each have up to 60 hours to make their cases. An army of lawyers and aides brought into the county board chamber more than 50 3-inch binders packed with exhibits and related documents, materials that must be moved each day as the appeals board doesn't have a dedicated meeting room.
Portions of the opening statements were closed to protect Chevron's trade secrets.
But publicly, Chevron argued that Contra Costa Assessor Gus Kramer and his team lack the expertise to value an oil refinery, failed to reveal the methodology behind their numbers and ignored key factors such as local tax burdens, supply and demand for oil, and environmental laws.
The company puts the value of its land and improvements at $1.1 billion to $1.8 billion during the three-year period, but the county set a range of $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion.
Unlike other Contra Costa refineries, for example, Chevron pays Richmond a utility user tax.
"We think we have the evidence to give you a clear picture of what a willing buyer would pay for this refinery," said Chevron attorney Lawrence Hoenig.
The county attorney argued that Chevron manipulated the experts' data in its favor, withheld necessary information the assessor's staff sought and falsely characterized the county's level of competence and the assessment process.
Kevin Lally, the county's attorney, described portions of the oil company's analysis as "filled with errors" and other components "just wrong."
"This is a hugely profitable refinery that spins off buckets of money and the buckets are pretty big," Lally said.
Meanwhile, Chevron's lawsuit challenging the appeal's board decision on its 2004-06 value is winding its way through Superior Court.
Some Contra Cities are suing the county over the formula it used to recoup the $18 million it refunded Chevron.
And Chevron has already appealed its 2010 assessed valuation, which the appeals board will consider after it concludes the 2007-09 review.
Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, www.ibabuzz.com/politics or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.