A telephone town hall meeting with local legislators and government officials, for constituents in Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera and Tulare counties is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 28 and 6 p.m.
The event is sponsored by state Sen. Steve Knight, Assemblyman Scott Wilk, Board of Equalization Member George Runner and other lawmakers
They will discuss and field questions about the California Fire Prevention Fee passed by the state Legislature in June 2011 and first levied in late 2012.
The fee requires California taxpayers living in unincorporated areas to pay $150 per habitable structure to help cover the costs of preventing wildfires.
“This fee will fund a variety of important fire prevention services within the SRA (State Responsibility Area) including brush clearance around communities on public lands, along roadways and evacuation routes; and activities to improve forest health so the forest can better withstand wildfire,” according the state’s California Fire Prevention Fee website.
“There is a great deal of confusion surrounding California Fire Prevention Fee,” Knight said. “I understand there are many questions and concerns regarding the tax, and my goal is to aid and assist my constituents in whatever way possible. I wish to have a free and open dialogue to provide answers as well as present the most up-to-date and accurate information.”
Runner said that he supports a lawsuit by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association against the fee, because it was passed with a simple majority. Runner maintains that the fee is actually a tax and should have required a two-thirds majority to pass.
“We’re doing these town halls to explain to people what the fee is,” Runner said. “We also explain why we don’t like it, why we think it’s wrong. We also encourage them to pay it.”
Taxpayers will learn why they need to pay the fee and what options are available to them.
More than 3,000 people have already attended three town hall meetings this year, Runner said.
Registration by Tuesday, Aug. 27 is required to participate, which is free and open to the public. Call 916-445-3032 or click here to reserve a spot.
Participants will receive a call at 6 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the start of the event, with an invitation to connect to the town hall meeting.