Assemblyman Obernolte’s Fire Fee Due Date Bill Clears Legislative Hurdle

By – Susan A. Neufeld

Sacramento – Assemblyman Obernolte (R-Hesperia) announced that his Fire Fee Due Date Extension Bill passed out the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources. Assembly Bill 288 would extend the payment due date of the fire prevention fee from 30 days to 60 days, to give rural homeowners in California more time to pay or dispute this fee.

“The fire fee is an illegal tax that should ultimately be repealed.  I am encouraged that the pending court case against it will likely be heard this summer and I am hopeful that the judge will strike down the ‘fee’.  In the meantime, this bill will provide much-needed relief to rural and fixed income homeowners who are given little time to pay or dispute the fee,” Assembly Obernolte said. “AB 288 also includes an amnesty program, which would help families who have struggled to pay the fire fee on time in the past”

The fire fee was created to address a $50 million budget deficit in the 2011 budget bill.  Currently, CalFire is charged with identifying households in State Responsibility Areas of fire protection and the Board of Equalization sends these homeowners the fire fee bills on a rolling basis, with a due date of 30 days from the postmark. The assessment often comes unexpectedly, giving homeowners little time to plan for the payment.  This bill’s 60 day extension will help solve this problem.

AB 288 will next be referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.