Towns hope to tax refinery on behalf of schools

RODEO, Calif.

Under Measure J, homeowners in Rodeo, Crockett, Port Costa and one neighborhood in Hercules would pay an additional $96 annually, but businesses would pay more based on square footage. The refinery would be the largest single payer in the John Swett Unified School District.

"This is not about Conoco-Phillips, this is about keeping our programs going at our schools," Yes on J spokesperson Connie Batchelder said.

Supporters say the parcel tax would bring $1.7 million annually to the cash-strapped schools, where last year 24 teachers were laid off and class sizes increased because of budget cuts. Backers say the refinery should pay its fair share.

"The refinery impacts our communities. It impacts people's quality of life and the willingness of people who want to live here so that has an effect on schools," said John Swett High School teacher Dean Colombo.

Though there is no official organized opposition to the proposed parcel tax, recent mailers sent to homeowners show Conoco-Phillips' opposition to Measure J. In June Conoco-Phillips said its second quarter profits more than doubled, thanks in part to higher oil prices. It reported profits of more than $4 billion.

A spokesman for the refinery did not return calls for comment.

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