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Billing Begins for Second Year of Controversial Fire Protection Fee

Jul 3, 2013

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Credit Katie Orr / Capital Public Radio

For the second year in a row, California is charging rural homeowners a special fee for fire protection. The bills are coming a bit later than planned, but they are on their way. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the fee's critics are as angry as ever and still hope to overturn it.

California is sending out about 800,000 bills beginning this month. The annual $150 charge is assessed to property owners with homes on land the state is responsible for protecting.

A court will hear a legal challenge later this month that accuses the fee of being an illegal tax. Republican Assemblyman Brian Jones represents the rural sections of San Diego County.

: “I think it’s illegal and unconstitutional. That’s why I’m supporting the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association lawsuit against it. And I’m hopeful that they’ll prevail in court and we’ll be able to eliminate the fee all together,” says Jones.

But Cal Fire says this is the first time in decades the state has funded fire prevention.

The fee is expected to bring in more than $84 million this fiscal year.