The day after legislation was announced that proposes to nearly double the state fire tax for some county property owners, a Lake Elsinore lawmaker said he wants to see the tax eliminated altogether.
Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore) and Assemblyman Paul Cook (R-Beaumont) introduced a bill last week that would do away with the state fire tax.
The Inland Empire lawmakers brought forth AB 1x45 in response to a proposal by members of the Senate Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review to hike the state fire protection fee from $90 to a minimum $175.
Gov. Jerry Brown sought the fee as part of his 2011-12 deficit reduction plan, and the Legislature approved a new $150 assessment in June. However, after a review, the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection last month slashed the fee to $90.
The reduction would cut anticipated revenue to the state by around $50 million.
The per parcel fire protection fee would apply to around 700,000 rural property owners throughout California who reside in so-called “state responsibility areas'' that are serviced exclusively by Cal Fire. Monies raised would be deposited into an account set up to finance fire prevention efforts, according to state officials.
Members of the Senate Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review introduced SBx17 on Thursday to overturn the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection's action.
Under the Senate bill, a property owner would owe a minimum $175 annually for state fire protection services. However, that amount could go as high as $3,000 for rural residents with large amounts of land.
“It's bad enough that many homeowners are already being double-taxed for their fire protection because of June's illegal fire tax,'' Cook said. “Now the governor and his allies in the Legislature are proposing even steeper taxes on struggling rural homeowners ... We can't afford another tax increase.''
The bill from Cook and Jeffries would repeal the fire tax altogether.
The new charge has been widely criticized by Riverside and San Diego counties elected officials. Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone has indicated he will introduce a resolution condemning the fee this month. –City News Service and Toni McAllister contributed to this report.