News Release

SUPERVISOR DIANNE JACOB

DATE: May 15, 2012

CONTACT: Steve Schmidt, 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108

 

JACOB URGES REGULATORS TO EXEMPT REGION FROM STATE’S ARBITRARY FIRE TAX

San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob will ask state fire officials to exempt the region from an annual parcel tax of up to $150 slated to hit some 74,000 property owners who live in rural and semi-rural areas of San Diego County.  The Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is holding a public hearing on the so-called Fire Prevention Benefit Fee tomorrow, May 16, at the County Administration Center at 10:00 a.m.  

Supervisor Jacob believes the tax comes with zero guarantee of improved fire protection and is, instead, an attempt to make up for the state’s monstrous budget deficit by singling out residents who already pay for fire protection through both property taxes and special assessments. Jacob said the scheme amounts to “triple taxation.”

“Proponents of this flawed tax fail to realize that many residents in these areas have already assessed themselves for better fire protection, some paying as much as $400 a month,” Supervisor Jacob said. “That’s in addition to paying property taxes which should be prioritized for basic public services like fire protection,” she said.

“What’s more,” Jacob added, “County government directly pays CAL FIRE about $10.2 million annually to augment fire protection in vulnerable areas. That goes along with more than $230 million the County has invested in rural fire protection since the firestorms of 2003.”

“A very narrow segment of the population— many who’ve endured both the 2003 and 2007 wildfires— are being asked to bear the burden of the State’s inability to adequately fund CAL FIRE. This is a huge injustice,” Jacob said.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a government watchdog group, has threatened to challenge the legality of the fee. The group maintains that the tax requires a two-thirds vote of the California Legislature. Jacob said she would strongly support such legal action.   

The controversial fee was created by Assembly Bill 29 and approved by the Legislature in early 2011.  It is expected to be enacted by the Board of Forestry later this year, in which case bills would start arriving in mailboxes by early August.