By Jon Coupal
By now, most rural homeowners have become accustomed to receiving an annual bill of $150—or higher—for what is euphemistically called a “fire prevention fee.” However, this familiarity does not make writing out the check to the State Board of Equalization any more palatable. Many property owners, who are receiving no additional fire protection services, recognize this as the rip-off that it is.
It is hard to believe that those in the Legislature, who created this tax in 2011 with a simple majority vote while calling it a fee, did so with a straight face. Even Gov. Brown questioned its legality while signing it into law. And we at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association saw clearly that it was not a fee—which requires that a specific service be provided in return for the payment—but a tax, which under Proposition 13 requires a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature.
Of course, the “fee” was established, not so more money could be provided to the Department of Forestry, the stated beneficiary of the new revenue, but to allow lawmakers to divert money previously spent for this purpose to pet projects. Basically it was a switcheroo, with the new money being used to backfill for the money diverted to other programs.
Click here to read the full article in the California Farm Bureau’s AgAlert.