SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California State Board of Equalization (BOE) announced Wednesday that it will delay fire prevention fee bills.
The fee was approved by the legislature in 2011 for people who live in rural areas that rely on Cal Fire for fire prevention and protection. The fee affects more than 800,000 homeowners. Most people are charged $115, but some have to pay $150, depending on whether they live far from fire services.
According to the BOE, the delay in the collection of these fees is being postponed due to a large number of complaints submitted by homeowners.
The fire prevention fee funds are administered by Cal Fire. Current state law requires the BOE to bill the owners of habitable structures located within the State Responsibility Area (SRA), and collect the fees.
However, on March 12, 2013, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit against Cal Fire and the BOE, challenging the constitutionality of the measure.
In a statement released Wednesday, BOE Chairman Jerome E. Horton said, "Until the Courts decide the constitutionality of this legislation, it remains the law and the Board has no alternative but to follow the law which gives Cal Fire the authority to direct the board to delay the collection of the fee. Time will determine whether these funds were necessary to help prevent and manage fires in certain areas, and whether the law is constitutional. If the law is found to be unconstitutional, we will not permit these fees to further burden feepayers."