Fire Tax:
Fire Board Votes to Make Tax Permanent

The California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection voted December 5 to make the current "emergency" $150 fire tax permanent, as required by state law. The tax – described by the state as a "fee" – is imposed on habitable structures in areas where the state is responsible for providing fire services. Property owners in such areas who also pay taxes to local fire districts, and thus are double-taxed for these services, get a reduction of $35.

So far, the implementation of the tax has been riddled with SNAFUs and non-compliance. Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh, speaking on behalf of rural counties, told the fire board that the Regional Council of Rural Counties opposes the tax. He said the tax has had a variety of negative impacts, including making it more difficult for local fire agencies to ask voters to increase local taxes, and undermining the willingness of local fire agencies to respond on a mutual-aid basis. He also noted that there has been a large number of incorrect bills mailed to property owners, with many being double- or triple-billed.

"The billing and implementation process is already causing substantial confusion," he said. "This 'fee' is no longer worth the expense of administering it." (Source: Stockton Record, December 6.)

December 7, 2012
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