JULY 30 — SACRAMENTO, CA: State lawmakers nixed a controversial fire protection fee on rural property owners yesterday, replacing the lost funds with general taxes as part of the new California state budget.
The California Farm Bureau Federation had sued over the proposed $35 per parcel annual fee to cover part of rural fire protection costs on 31 million acres of rural land. According to an AP report, CDF was working with county assessors in 56 of the state’s 58 counties to collect a double fee on each parcel this winter to pay back a projected $102.5 million borrowed from the general fund to help pay firefighting costs.
The Farm Bureau and rural legislators and residents said the fee was an illegal tax that unfairly burdened rural residents for statewide fire costs.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to sign the spending plan tomorrow, after he reviews it for possible line-item vetoes.
The Senate approved the $105 billion spending plan on a 28-11 vote, a day after the Assembly voted 69-11 to pass it. The Ukiah Daily Journal reported that the budget includes funds to keep open a local California Conservation Corps center. The CCC youths help with environmental clean-ups and emergency and fire assistance. When the governor announced his budget proposal in January, the center was scheduled for closure, but that was delayed pending a final budget. The Ukiah center instead has operated at a reduced level, and new members haven’t been recruited.