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Richmond Mayor Wants To Pay Back Ratepayers
January 25, 2001

She seeks an analysis of how much the city will earn in taxes from rate hikes and a way to return that portion to residents 


Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin has asked the city staff to look for a way to return to ratepayers the increase in utility taxes that have resulted from the recent spike in electricity costs. 

The Berkeley City Council also grappled Tuesday with the unexpected tax windfall from the current energy crisis, directing acting City Manager Weldon Rucker to contact PG&E about the feasibility of lowering the citywide utility tax. 

Corbin's move came after the Richmond City Council on Tuesday tabled a proposal by Councilman Tom Butt to temporarily reduce the city's 8 percent utility tax. 

Corbin later asked the staff to analyze how much the city will earn in taxes from the recent rate hikes and to look for a way to return that portion to residents without changing the 8 percent. 

The Richmond City Council also tabled by a 6-1 vote Butt's proposal to ask voters in November whether to raise the ceiling on a flat utility user tax the city offers its major power users. Chevron is the only company that takes advantage of the flat-rate option. 

Butt was the dissenter on the vote. Council members John Marquez and Mindell Penn abstained. 

Berkeley was the first East Bay city to consider giving its residents some relief from growing gas and electric bills by rolling back its utility tax. On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council asked the staff to provide a detailed analysis of the economic implications of lowering the city's tax by the Feb. 13 council meeting. 

PG&E officials said last week that it would be difficult to re-tool their billing system within a few months, but Berkeley officials are still pushing the idea. 

"The city wants to look into whatever is possible," said City Councilwoman Polly Armstrong. "The first answer is always no. You just have to go from there."