By Bill Weaver
November 17, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –Supervisor Dianne Jacob has issued a statement urging backcountry residents who oppose the state fire tax fee to take the following steps to protect their rights in the event that litigation ultimately overturns the fees. While some support the fees as a means to fund firefighting services by Cal Fire during fiscally challenging times for the state, Jacob contends the tax places an unfair burden on rural residents.
"County Supervisor Dianne Jacob advises residents in her district to pay a new state fire tax now being levied on tens of thousands of local homeowners, but to do it under protest.
"In recent weeks, many rural and semi-rural residents of District 2 - a sprawling region that includes the bulk of the San Diego County backcountry - have started to receive bills asking them to pay the state up to $150 annually for each habitable structure on their land. Approximately 400,000 people in the region will be impacted by this tax.
"Jacob has long opposed the tax, saying it stems from the state's failure to adequately fund Cal Fire. "It's blatantly unjust and borders on cruel that the state would hit homeowners up for more money when they already pay property taxes to help fund public safety programs and, in many cases, special local fees for fire protection," she said.
"She noted the county also spends $15.5 million annually to augment rural fire protection. More than $10 million of that money goes directly to Cal Fire.
"The supervisor recommends that those receiving the tax bill:
1. Pay it within the 30-day due date and write "UNDER PROTEST" on the notation line of their check. Make copies of the check and send the original with the bill.
2. Go to www.firepreventionfee.org and click on the link labeled "Petition for Redetermination." Fill out the petition to formally challenge the fee.
3. Send a copy of the petition and a copy of the check to these three addresses: Fire Prevention Petitions, P.O. Box 2254, Suisun City, CA, 94585; Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, P.O. Box 944246, Sacramento, CA, 94244; and the Board of Equalization, P.O. Box 942879, Sacramento, CA, 94279.
"All three steps must be completed should any lawsuits prevail in overturning the fee and should the court order the state to issue refunds."