The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is being asked to support Assembly Bill 203, which would extend the 30-day payment deadline for the State Fire Prevention Fee to 60 days.

The sponsor, Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake), argues that many people who must pay the fee live in rural areas and are on limited incomes.

“Many individuals do not receive their bills in a timely manner. Additionally, many of these individuals are on fixed incomes, making it nearly impossible for them to pay their Fire Prevention Fee by the 30-day deadline,” Brian Nestande, deputy county executive officer, wrote to the board last week.

Extending the payment period should result in greater compliance, according to Obernolte. However, the Board of Equalization reports that the payments made after 60 days continues to decline, at an average annual rate of 2 percent. The Assembly Appropriations Committee estimates the extension could cost between $375,000 and $500,000 annually.

“The current deadline does not provide residents in rural communities nearly enough time to pay or protest their fire fee assessments,” Obernolte said. “Ultimately, I am hopeful that the courts will find this fee illegal and strike it down, but in the meantime, this bill will help provide much-needed relief to these homeowners.”

The recommendation was on the board’s agenda for its Tuesday, April 28 meeting.