Sacramento, Calif.- George Runner today urged Governor Jerry Brown to restore full funding to CAL-FIRE and eliminate the confusing and controversial Fire Prevention Fee in the revised version of his 2014-15 budget proposal.
“The Fire Prevention Fee was established during a time of crisis, when the state faced multi-billion budget deficits,” said Runner. “Those budget deficits are gone, but the fire fee remains, much to the chagrin of hundreds of thousands of rural property owners throughout California.”
The Board of Equalization is required by law to mail “Fire Prevention Fee” bills on behalf of CAL-FIRE to nearly 800,000 Californians each year. In the 2012-13 fiscal year, the Board of Equalization and CAL-FIRE spent a combined total of more than $17 million to collect only $75 million from Fire Fee payers.
“The fire fee continues to place more burdens and costs on CAL-FIRE and the State Board of Equalization while providing no additional fire protection for Californians – even with the state’s increased firefighting expenses this year due to dry weather and drought. The fiscally responsible thing to do is eliminate it.”
Restoring CAL-FIRE’s full funding, using existing revenue, will save the state the costs of continuing to administer, collect, litigate, and likely refund the inefficient fire fee.
Elected in November 2010, George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as a member of the State Board of Equalization.