North State Lawmakers Target Fire Tax Fee
A controversial statewide fire protection fee that targets rural property owners is now in the cross-hairs of Republican lawmakers.
Today, a group of assemblymen made it official, introducing a bill that would repeal the annual fee.
Governor Jerry Brown and democratic lawmakers approved the fee last year, saying those who choose to live in rural areas should pay more for the cost of fire protection, but Republican lawmakers feel the fee is being unfairly imposed.
It's a controversial wildfire fee that has rural homeowner and Cohasset resident Jean Freedom fired up. "It is unfair, it isn't equal, just to be taxed more and double because you live out in the country doesn't make any sense to me," said Freedom.
She isn't alone.
"We already pay a lot of taxes and this is just another one in a recession so it's really hard on all of us up here," said Cohasset resident Perry Johnson.
The wildfire fee requires rural homeowners residing in the 31 million acres that fall under the protection of Cal Fire to pay as much as $150 annually for fire fighting services.
The fee could raise as much as 84 million dollars to help the state's firefighting budget, something Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant says helps guarantee a stable funding source for the state's firefighters.
"This is isn't new money. This is money that is being taken out of our general fund portion and being replaced by this special fund so really what it does is create a stable funding source for us for fire prevention," said Berlant.
But north state lawmakers Jim Nielsen and Doug LaMalfa today introduced legislation that would repeal the fee.
They think it's a tax and it should've required two-thirds vote to pass.
"This fire tax is indeed illegal, it doesn't follow constitutional guidelines for a two-thirds vote by the legislature ,nor was it even presented to the people for a vote. It's another attack on rural Californians," said LaMalfa.
"It is not only illegal, it happened in a despicable way, dark of night, behind closed doors, no public input on this immense and enduring fee," added Nielsen.
"I don't see where it's a necessity. I think they're just trying to come up with more money to cover their shortfalls," concluded Johnson.
Source: khsltv.com - Link
California Fire News 2012