As campaigns for and against Measure P gear up, new information continues to trickle in about how the initiative to ban all new fracking, acidizing, and cyclic-steam injection operations will impact the county and its coffers. A fiscal impact statement released this week states the ban would affect property-tax revenues — how much and when remains to be seen.
Oil companies pay $20 million in property taxes, or 3.1 percent of the total, and approximately $12.7 million goes to schools. But the report does not break down the revenue brought in from “high intensity” operations. The number of such unconventional operations in the county is still being debated. At the heart of the dispute is whether or not an ordinance regulating maintenance or repairs that require energy division permits would eventually shut them down. The protocols being developed by the planning department would define this and other ambiguities, such as whether or not landowners with mineral rights would receive exemptions.
For proponents, the potential revenue lost is minimal in comparison to what’s at stake if a large-scale spill occurred. Yes on Measure P spokesperson Katie Davis said the initiative was what she expected because it would not have an “immediate impact” on tax revenues. Assemblymember Das Williams, who supports the measure, also warned that some of the roughly 800 oil operation applications — most of which are cyclic steam injection — that have been submitted to the county’s energy division will go forward before November.
The Yes on Measure P campaign has raised $44,876, most of which was from individual donors; Davis donated $10,000. Supporters have previously stated it’ll take approximately $500,000 for them to be successful. The No on Measure P committee just formed, and it does not have any campaign finances to report as of the end of June. Campaign spokesperson Jim Byrne called the initiative “deceptive” and said he plans to educate voters about its widespread effects between now and November.