(Victor Valley) – Fire Prevention Fee bills for fiscal year 2014-15 began mailing yesterday to more than 700,000 rural Californians, many of whom are receiving a bill for the fourth time.
“It’s extremely frustrating that a law this wrong continues to take money from the pockets of rural Californians year after year,” said Runner. “This so-called ‘fee’ was put in place during a budget crisis that no longer exists. The Legislature could and should repeal it.”
Approximately 10,000 bills will be sent each day in alphabetical order by county. The mailing schedule, available at calfirefee.com, is alphabetical by county, starting with Alameda County on March 2 and concluding with Yuba County on June 15.
To protect their eligibility for a refund, property owners should protest every billing by filing a new Petition for Redetermination within 30 days of the billing date. Information on how to appeal is available at www.calfirefee.com/appeal.
Runner re-affirmed his support for the pending class action lawsuit, as well as a full legislative repeal. Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) recently introduced SB 198 to repeal the illegal tax.
In addition, Runner is sponsoring legislation to extend the time homeowners have to pay and appeal the Fire Prevention Fee. Two identical measures, AB 203 (Obernolte) and SB 250 (Gaines), would increase the payment due date of the Fire Prevention Fee from 30 days from the date of assessment to 60 days.
“The confusing and controversial fire fee is tax policy at its worst,” said Runner. “It should be eliminated entirely, but until then these bills are a step in the right direction. Increasing the payment due date will help lessen the burden of this illegal tax on rural homeowners.”
Due to the rural nature of those being billed, many property owners do not receive their fire fee bills in a timely manner. Although payment plans are available, many on fixed incomes are unable to pay their Fire Prevention Fee by the 30-day deadline.
“Problems with timely mail delivery can be an issue in mountain and rural areas of my Senate District,” said Senator Gaines. “The current deadline does not allow residents in these communities nearly enough time to pay or protest their fire fee bills before they start accruing penalties. I hope my bill will provide some much-needed relief to these homeowners.”
“The current deadline does not provide residents in rural communities nearly enough time to pay or protest their fire fee assessments,” said Assemblyman Obernolte. “Ultimately, I am hopeful that the courts will find this fee illegal and strike it down, but in the meantime this bill will help provide much needed relief to these homeowners.”
Elected in November 2010 and re-elected in 2014, 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.