MARTINEZ -- Contra Costa supervisors unanimously approved a deal with Chevron on Tuesday that halts several property tax lawsuits related to the energy giant's Richmond refinery and promises the company the county's ear when determining future tax assessments.

"This puts this decade behind us and puts us in a better position going forward," Supervisor Mary Piepho, of Discovery Bay, said.

Contra Costa Assessor Gus Kramer said the deal increases the likelihood of avoiding future disputes with Chevron.

Chevron last year filed a court challenge to a Contra Costa County property tax appeals board decision that found the Richmond refinery was under-assessed by as much as $27 million in 2007-09. Chevron also sued over the Contra Costa Assessment Appeals Board's 2004-2006 decision.

The refinery had sought a $73 million tax refund for that period but was awarded $17 million. Chevron also appealed its 2010-2012 refinery fair-market values as set by Kramer.

Under the terms of the agreement, the taxable value of Chevron's Richmond refinery in 2012 would be reduced from $3.87 billion to $3.28 billion, but the energy giant will not collect the $8 million in taxes it overpaid that year, according to a county staff report. In exchange, Chevron and the Assessor's Office would annually meet and confer regarding the value of the Richmond refinery, as was the custom before 2004.

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