Industry group calls Port Hueneme tax proposal ‘misleading’
Former Congressman Elton Gallegly, two former Naval Base Ventura County commanders and key players in the shipping industry are lining up to oppose the city of Port Hueneme’s Measure M, which would impose special levies on businesses that operate at the naval base and commercial port.
The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents marine businesses up and down the West Coast, sent a sternly worded warning to city officials in opposition to Measure M. General Counsel Mike Jacob wrote that “shortsightedness by the City threatens an international trade facility” that is vital to the Ventura County economy.
In the letter, Jacob said the city is “misleading its residents” by not considering the impact of a major tax increase on activity levels at the port. Also signing on the statement opposing the measure were former base commanders James McHugh and Charles B. “Brick” Conners.
The Oxnard Harbor District, whose board oversees the Port of Hueneme, the commercial facility that is distinct from the city with a similar name, was slated to meet at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 5 to consider a future vote on in opposition to the measure, which was placed on the November ballot by a vote of city council in late July, following a July 21 staff report. The initiative would replace the current home-based business tax with a much larger levy on port-related businesses and is expected to bring in $500,000 to $1 million per year.
The city’s hostile actions against the port came after an effort earlier this year by Port Director Kristin Decas to revamp some parts of a longstanding agreement between the port and the city of Port Hueneme.
Gallegly, who represented the area in Congress for decades as part of his Ventura County district, has long been an advocate for Naval Base Ventura County and the port. Among other things, he successfully sought millions of dollars for improvements to the Rice Avenue transportation corridor that links the port to Highway 101. And he was instrumental in combining Point Mugu and Port Hueneme operations into a single command to reduce costs and preserve the Naval Base.
The election is slated to be held on Nov. 4 and because it is limited to residents of Port Hueneme a turnout of a few thousand votes could determine the result. Only a simple majority is needed to pass the measure.[Update, 5 p.m. Aug. 5: An earlier version of this story misstated that the Oxnard Harbor District commissioners would take a vote on whether to oppose Measure M. Any vote would need to be held at the commissioners’ next meeting, after giving public notice.]