New Fire Tax Could Affect Thousands of San Bernardino Residents

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SAN BERNARDINO Calif. – Today the County Board of Supervisors made their position known on the fire tax by passing a unanimous resolution in opposition to it.

According to George Watson, Chief of Staff for Supervisor Neil Derry, the resolution calls for resending of the tax. “I am committed to waging an ongoing and sustained battle against this illegal tax,” Supervisor Derry said.

Initially the tax was to be $150 per household living in the wildland areas serviced by Cal Fire. First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt tells Best Syndication that the money goes to the state’s fire protection agency. “The irony is that Cal Fire does not provide structure protection, although the fee is assessed on structures”, Mitzelfelt said.

The tax / fee could be assessed against tens of thousands of residents of San Bernardino County. The good news is that the fee was lowered from $150 to $90 per year and there are discounts available for residents who provide defensible space between their home and brush and trees.

Those with the lowest incomes could be weighed-down the most. “The High Desert has the highest unemployment in the region and our residents cannot be burdened with additional taxes when so many are struggling to make ends meet”, Supervisor Mitzelfelt said.

“This is an example of the majority in the Legislature’s irresponsible, unfair, and possibly illegal effort to balance its out-of-control budget on the backs of local residents, who already pay taxes and fees for this service.”

Watson tells Best Syndication that the assessment is on habitable structures only, not garages or sheds. According to David Zook, spokesperson for Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, the fee will be assessed on “inhabitable” structures.

“When the legislature passed the bill it was meant to cover a shortfall in the Cal Fire budget, but because the way it was written the money could go to local fire agencies”, Watson told Best Syndication.

California Governor Jerry Brown may change that. According to Chief of Staff Watson the governor wants to make sure the money goes to the state and not the local agencies.

By: Dan Wilson

Image: Courtesy Cal Fire

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