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California Rural Fire Fee Bills Arriving For Second Year

Aired 9/16/13 on KPBS News.

Rural Californians have started receiving bills for the second year of the state’s fire prevention fee. The legislature passed the $150 fee in 2011 to pay for operations like emergency evacuation planning, fuel reduction and code enforcement.

Rural Californians have started receiving bills for the second year of the state's fire prevention fee. The legislature passed the $150 fee in 2011 to pay for operations like emergency evacuation planning, fuel reduction and code enforcement.

Dennis Mathisen with Cal Fire said past budget cuts have left the department without a reliable wild fire prevention revenue stream.

"The fire prevention fee actually provides a stable funding source for vital fire prevention activities that Cal Fire provides throughout the 31 million acres of state responsibility area," Mathisen explained.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued to block the fee because it said the legislature passed it unlawfully.

"In California a tax coming from the legislature must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each house," said Association President John Coupal. "It did not receive that vote, therefore we're in court."

A ruling on the law suit isn't expected until 2014.

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