Friday, October 05, 2012

In California, there's a fight over rural residents paying a $150 fire-fighting tax

Update: Dec. 7, 2012: The California Board of Forestry made permanent the "fire prevention fee" that forces the owners of more than 800,000 rural homes in California to pay a $115 to $150 annual tax. Representatives from several rural counties were on hand to remind the board that they oppose the tax. 

The fires out West are getting hotter, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association thinks rural residents in California are bearing too much of the burden for fighting them. The group announced Thursday that it is suing to end a $150 annual state fire fee imposed on California's rural residents and want to obtain refunds for those who have already paid the fee.  Kevin Yamamura of the The Sacramento Bee reports that the group brought suit in a Sacramento Superior Court alleging that that the $150 annual fee, which the state began collecting in August, "amounts to a tax that was illegally approved without the necessary two-thirds majority of lawmakers." The tax applies to 825,000 rural homeowners.

Gov. Jerry Brown argues that it is legitimate to ask rural residents to pay higher costs for fire prevention in the wake of larger developments on once-rural lands that face greater wildfire risks. "This is putting a huge stress and strain and fear on rural property owners," Jarvis group President Jon Coupal said. Cal Fire spokeswoman Janet Upton said her organization thinks "it's unfortunate that (the Jarvis group) is trying to obstruct funding that we need for fire prevention. We strongly feel that prevention activities funded by the fee save lives and property." (Read more

1 comment:

HeyDee said...

It is an unfair and illegal tax! For one, the majority of fires in our rural area are not caused by locals, but by mother nature or those who visit for the weekends or holidays. The last fire in our small community occurred on Main Street right across from our fire station. Fire Equipment came from at least four other nearby towns. Oh, by the way,in Potter Valley, those on Main St. are not being taxed. They call this a fee for fire "prevention"! Are they coming to our rural homes and weed eating our grasses around our homes? No.What are they going to do for US who are paying this fee to prevent fires in our areas. I haven't heard squat about that. The fact is, rural residents don't want to loose their life savings by fire. We automatically clear our yards for fire safety. (It also helps with snake hazards.) Fires in more densely populated areas, such as the Infamous Oakland Fire, do more monetary damage in a much smaller area! So, they want us to fund over $120,000,000 to prevent fires from starting where? How are they going spend that money? The fire risk at my home will be the same as always!