Bill to establish fire tax awaits governor’s action
By Karen Brainard
A bill that seeks to impose a maximum $150 annual fee for fire prevention on rural property owners was pulled from the state budget, and had not been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown as of July 4.
ABX1 29, now considered a trailer bill, was authored by California Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) and passed the state assembly by 52-26 and the state senate by 23-16 in June.
State Senator Joel Anderson and Assemblyman Brian Jones, whose districts include Ramona, voted against the bill. Both are Republicans.
“We’re already paying for fire,” Anderson told the Sentinel. “We’re not asking Los Angles to pay extra for earthquakes. These fires are a threat to all Californians. The costs should be borne by all Californians.”
A spokesperson from Blumenfield’s office said the bill was given to Brown at 4:45 p.m. June 29 and the governor has 12 days to sign, amend or veto it. That would give him until July 11.
San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, whose District 2 includes Ramona, has spoken out against the bill. In a letter to Brown, Jacob stated that the fee would amount to double taxation on affected property owners who are already paying for fire protection through their property taxes and many are paying additional taxes and benefit assessment fees to their local fire districts.
The bill would require the State Board of Equalization to collect a fire prevention fee in an amount not to exceed $150 to be charged on each structure on a parcel that is within a State Responsibility Area (SRA), as classified by the state’s Board of Forestry and Fire Protection. Such areas have been ranked as moderate, high or very high Fire Hazard Severity Zones. They do not include incorporated cities and federal ownership. In SRAs, the state has financial responsibility for wildland fire protection.
Jacob’s office said the bill would affect 73,000 homes in San Diego County and would give the state a total of $10.9 million.
In her letter to Brown, Jacob pointed out that the county has made “a significant commitment to fire protection by providing $15.5 million annually to augment rural fire service in our most vulnerable area which is entirely in the State Responsibility Area.”
To contact the governor’s office about this fee, call 916-445-2841 or fax 916-558-3160. Emails can be sent through the website, www.gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.
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