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News: Cal Fire uses hidden funds for conference at Pismo Beach resort

Following questions raised by the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal regarding $3.6 million in hidden money at the agency, Cal Fire has released a spreadsheet with information on how these funds were spent.  Among the expenses are $33,000 for a conference at a Pisomo Beach resort, $30,000 for GPS vehicle trackers and $22,000 for metal detectors.  Senator Ted Gaines has called for a criminal investigation.

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Editorial: State hoarding rural fire tax as locals starve

The Redding Record Searchlight says the Legislature has failed to spend fire tax revenueon fire protection activities as they promised.  The laws says localities, fire safe councils, the California Conservation Corps and fire prevention nonprofits are supposed to receive the revenue but so far they have not received a penny.

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News: Cal Fire kept $3.6 million from state’s treasury, records show

The Los Angeles Times reports Cal Fire is facing an investigation after hiding $3.6 million from the state’s treasury.  The money, which came from legal settlements, was supposed to be deposited in the State General Fund, but some say Cal Fire instead hid the money in a nonprofit account shielded from public view.

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News: Senator Gaines introduces bill to repeal fire tax

Northern California State Senator Ted Gaines has introduced a bill to repeal the fire tax as his first action in the new legislative session.  Senator Gaines says the fire tax is illegal and unfair, taxing many individuals who already pay for fire protection and further harming the bad economy.

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News: Fire tax revenues lagging

Board of Equalization member George Runner says fire tax nonpayment rates are three times that which the BOE originally predicted.  Currently 332,049 of the 693,935 fire tax bills sent are paid in full.  While the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association believes the tax is illegal, the Association believes people are obligated to pay until the lawsuit is resolved under the legal principle of “pay now, sue later.”

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News: Supervisor has plan to empower peeved customers

With fire tax bills now hitting the San Diego region and many of the area’s normally laid back residents irate, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is urging people to pay the fee but to do so under protest.  Jacob has long opposed the fire tax and points out the county itself spends $15.6 million annually to help with rural fire protection, over $10 million of which goes directly to Cal Fire.

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News: Assemblyman advises people to read fire tax bills carefully for errors

Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries is urging residents of his Riverside and San Diego County district to examine their fire tax bills, reporting that some constituents are finding errors including taxes on people outside the SRA area, duplicate bills and taxes on structures that do not exist.  Jeffries, who opposed the fire tax in the Legislature, urged people to visit this website for information on the legal challenge.

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Opinion: Fire tax on rural Californians is unfair and illegal

Board of Equalization member George Runner calls the fire tax unfair and illegal in Ag Alert, a weekly newspaper published by the California Farm Bureau.  Runner argues there is no relationship between the amount of taxes people are being asked to pay and the amount of benefits they receive.  Furthermore, Runner questions the underlying logic of the tax, pointing out legislators do not impose taxes on urban constituents for services more often used in their communities.

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News: Fire fee battle heats up

Residents of the Big Bear Valley are now being hit with fire tax bills, leaving some confused and others angry.  Property owners are receiving the bills even though CalFire does not maintain any presence in the Big Bear Valley and even if they already pay additional taxes for local fire prevention services.

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News: Locals react to Cal Fire fee lawsuit

Humboldt County’s Times-Standard newspaper reported positive reactions to the fire tax lawsuit from residents of California’s northern coast.  The Humboldt County Taxpayers Association was joined in wholeheartedly supporting the lawsuit by the Humboldt County Fire Chief’s Association and the area’s Democratic Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro.  Local fire officials reported inconsistent and illogical application of the tax.

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