George Runner today announced that the State of California has begun mailing 19,016 "Fire Prevention Fee" bills to rural Los Angeles County residents.
"Property owners who receive bills should take a close look to make sure the bill they received is accurate," said Runner. "If there's a problem with your bill, the law only allows 30 days for you to file an appeal—and that's 30 days from the date on the bill, not the date you receive it."
The new tax, which Runner opposes as an "illegal money grab," was approved as a "fee" by a simple majority vote of the Legislature last year and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
"This money will not pay to fight fires and won't add a single firefighter, fire truck or fire hose," cautioned Runner. "The funds collected—optimistically projected to be $84 million—will only pay for fire prevention efforts that already exist and cannot be used for firefighters or actual fire suppression."
Runner explained that the funds collected will neither expand nor bolster the state's fire prevention efforts. They only backfill money the Legislature chose to spend elsewhere. No new fire prevention efforts will result from this tax.
The new law requires residential rural property owners in the State Responsibility Area (SRA) to pay $150 for each habitable structure located on their land. Property owners who already pay for local fire protection receive a $35 reduction.
To help inform California taxpayers, Runner has established a website, calfirefee.com, providing information about the new fire tax. Californians can visit this site to find out if they will receive a fire tax bill.
They can also learn details regarding the process, timeline and grounds for filing an appeal.
The state plans to mail more than 825,000 bills in alphabetical order by county between August and early December.
Elected in November 2010, George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a member of the State Board of Equalization.
For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.