Politics

Property Owners To Pay Fee To Bail Out Cash-Strapped California Fire Agency

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California Department of Corrections prison inmate firefighters remove burned trees from a highway.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Department of Corrections prison inmate firefighters remove burned trees from a highway. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

JEFFREY%20SCHAUB Jeffrey Schaub
Jeffrey Schaub is a Bay Area broadcast news veteran. From 1990 to 201...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— On Monday over 825,000 property owners, mostly in the state’s rural areas near forests, began getting billed a $150 annual fee in order to help offset the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s budget deficit.

Many Bay Area and small-town California fire departments strongly oppose the fee imposed by Cal Fire, saying it will hurt their own budgets.

Cal Fire said it needs the $84 million the fees to offset state budget cuts, despite those who oppose the new fee.

KCBS’ Jeffrey Schaub Reports:

“This isn’t the right way to fund this,” said Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber who added that his department is looking at an estimated $1.75 million leaving the county.

“That money is going to head up to the state and be gone essentially. We could do a lot here locally with almost $2 million,” Weber said.

In Sonoma County, Rancho Adobe Fire District Chief Frank Treanor said the fee will make it difficult for small agencies like his to ask taxpayers to help them do their job.

“I’m going to have to ask the people for an increase in the special tax. What kind of a chance do you think I’m going to have in the ballot in November if these people are getting hit with this $150 tax?”

Treanor said he thinks there will be lawsuits to stop the Cal Fire fee.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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