It's not hard to imagine the dangers of wild fires with several currently burning right in the North State's back yard, but now, the state is sending out it's fire prevention fee's for the first time, and that's coming as a shock to residents like John Janinis. "I really don't like the idea of having to pay an extra tax, totally against it, don't want it, don't believe in it."
The $150 annual fee was approved last July by state lawmakers, and will affect anyone with a habitable property in the 31 million acres of State Responsibility Area in California. Cal Fire officials, like Public Information Officer Julie Hutchinson, say the fee was introduced to balance out the financial burdon to residents. "Homes in the wild land area of the State Responsibility Area get more of a commensurate benefit from the service of Cal Fire, and are more costly to the citizens of California."
Not all state lawmakers are on board. State Assemblyman Dan Logue says adding the fire prevention fee to some residents, and not all, just isn't fair. "The reason it's being unfair is because they're being taxed twice. There's a lot of seniors, and people who live in the rural areas of California who can't afford it."
Logue told our crews that residents are already paying for the fire service, and adding additional taxes is a slippery slope. "How much is enough? Are they going to tax them three times, four times? Where is this going to end?"
Logues other concern is that the funds are going towards fire prevention, and not fire fighting, but Hutchinson says that revenue will help save lives. "Putting fuel breaks around communities, law enforcement activities, emergency evacuation plans for communities, and a variety of things that are fire prevention related."
Residents we spoke with say, finding the fire prevention fee in the mail was not a welcome surprise, but they do understand why the additional funds are needed. Janinis says "we live in a dry area, so we do need extra protection. $150 extra a year, as much as I hate to say it, it's not going to kill me, but I don't like it, but I would certainly go along with it."