More join fight against California fire fees

Fee to generate $85M annually

Eddie Aflague is almost done having his garage rebuilt after a fire destroyed it this summer.

There was no cost to fight his fire, but he was surprised sometime after, when he received an annual fire bill from the state for $150.

The fire bills began going out a couple of months ago to 825,000 mostly rural California residents who live in what's called SRAs, State Responsibility Areas where CalFire responds to fires.

It was part of a 2011 budget deal between the Governor and Democrats who say the fee, which will generate about $85 million annually, is legitimate because the once rural lands now face greater wildfire risk.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association just filed a lawsuit claiming that 'fee' is really a tax, which means the Legislature needed a supermajority for it to be valid.

In light of a year that's already seeing 1300 more fires statewide than last year, CalFire says the fee is critical.  In fact, the agency's budget has already been deducted by the amount the fire fee was supposed to bring in.

Aflague is not buying it and is ready to join the lawsuit.


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