El Segundo city manager fired after questioning Chevron’s tax contributions to the city

This is the sun setting over the Chevron refinery in El Segundo
This is the sun setting over the Chevron refinery in El Segundo

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City Council members have voted to remove El Segundo’s city manager two months after he proposed a tax rate hike for the oil refinery that gave the city its name.

Back when Chevron was still named Standard Oil, the company established its second West Coast refinery in an area later incorporated as El Segundo.

Last year the town’s mayor directed city manager Doug Willmore to look into the acreage tax Chevron pays the city. Willmore reported back that while Chevron’s refinery occupies 36 percent of El Segundo’s commercial acreage, it provides only 10 percent of general fund revenue.

Smaller refineries in Torrance and Carson pay more tax to their host cities, and double what Chevron pays per acre. Willmore pointed out that El Segundo is short on infrastructure funds and money for long term projects.

But now city leaders have voted by a 3-2 margin to fire Willmore about 10 months after he took the job.

Willmore had won praise for attracting business and positive media coverage to the city. Now he suspects retaliation.

His lawyer has told reporters that the former city manager may be protected under whistleblower regulations. City leaders have offered no public explanation for their actions.