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Uncertain Future For Fire Fee

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Sacramento, CA — The unpopular fire-prevention tax is headed back to the state legislature just as Governor Jerry Brown has proposed expanding its use. Opponents have been trying to kill the $150 dollar annual tax that has many rural property owners heated.

The fee was imposed for the first time last year. It helps fund the state’s firefighting agency. It has run into two new hurdles in recent weeks that have been fueling criticism and uncertainty about its future. The first was the discovery that CAL Fire funneled money from wildfire damage settlements into a special account instead of the state treasury. That revelation was followed by an opinion from the Legislature’s legal counsel that the department is improperly using some of the new fire taxes to collect damages from people who start fires.