Fire Tax Initiative Falls Short

 

An effort to repeal a new fire charge on rural homeowners has fallen short, according to Senator Ted Gaines, who was gathering signatures for a referendum.

Gaines had to collect 504,760 signatures by Thursday to place a measure on the ballot that would ask voters to block the new fee. Governor Brown and lawmakers enacted Assembly Bill X1 29 in June to raise an estimated $50 million from rural residents in an effort to balance the state budget.

The state Board of Forestry and Fire Protection approved a $90 charge in August and offered significant reductions for those who already live in a fire district.

The board-approved fee would raise a fraction of the $50 million sought by state leaders. Brown asked the Legislature last month for a higher fee of $175 plus acreage charges, but lawmakers in both parties rejected the revised plan.

Gaines said his signature-gathering drive was grassroots and lacked the financial heft generally needed to qualify ballot initiatives.