Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Anti-Tax Group Sues Over Fire Prevention Fee

Oct 4, 2012

Prison inmates assist Calfire crews in fighting a blaze
Credit Ben Adler / Capitol Public Radio

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of California property owners who are charged a fire prevention fee.

The suit by the anti-tax group claims the fee is really a tax requiring a two-thirds vote in the legislature. It seeks to overturn the fee, which costs property owners $150 for every habitable structure on their property.

The suit was filed against the California Department of Forestry and the Board of Equalization. But Association President Jon Coupal places the blame on the legislature.

“It is really unfortunate and we have seen this legislature over and over again, as part of its DNA, to pass gimmicks enact a statute that it knows quite well is unconstitutional.”

If the suit is successful, 825,000 property owners could be eligible for refunds. They must first pay the fee, and then file a protest.

Calfire calls the lawsuit an unfortunate attempt to obstruct needed and stable funding for the prevention of devastating wildfires.