Cal Fire has begun mailing the Fire Prevention Fee bills to property owners with land or structures within State Responsibility Areas, such as these mountain communities. This is the third year of the fee imposition and litigation challenging its legality is still in the state courts.
“Fee assessments for Riverside County are scheduled to be mailed to homeowners between April 24 and 29,” said Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire information officer.
Fire fee bills will continue to come once a year until such a point as the lawsuit is resolved.
When a bill is received, property owners may file the Petition for Redetermination found on FireTaxProtest.org. This petition must be filed every year, even if it had been filed in previous years.
Filing the petition annually is the safest way to ensure a refund should the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association prevail in the lawsuit.
In other fire fee news, the California Board of Equalization’s 2015 budget requests that the state legislature approved making 54 temporary employees permanent and adding nine new, two-year, limited-term positions and 9.7 one-year temporary positions, for a total cost of $7.3 million.
Much of BOE’s workload is related to fee-payer phone inquiries and low rates of electronic filing. BOE’s costs for this program exceeded authorized expenditures by $1.7 million in 2012-13.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office recently commented on the budget request prior to the legislature’s budget hearings. LAO concurred with the administration regarding the total number of positions for this program. However, it believes the number of fee-payer calls to BOE will likely decline by more than one-third. Therefore, LAO recommended that the legislature shift 12 proposed phone-related positions from permanent to two-year limited terms. Its recommendation to the legislature was for 42 permanent positions, 21 two-year limited-term positions and 9.7 one-year temporary positions.