El Dorado County joins fire fee lawsuit
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to join the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association class action lawsuit seeking to overturn the state fire fee.
Hundreds of residents have contacted El Dorado County to voice their frustration about the fire tax, said Supervisor John Knight.
“The Board of Supervisors can’t sit idly by while the state is running a legalized extortion scheme on rural residents,” Knight said in a statement.
Residents living in the “state responsibility area” began receiving fire fee bills in late September. The fee is $150 per habitable structure within the state responsibility area.
A $35 dollar discount applies if the structure is also within the boundaries of a local fire protection district.
Nevada County Supervisor Nate Beason said the board of supervisors has yet to entertain formal discussions regarding joining the lawsuit, but Beason would not rule out such future discussion.
Beason has consistently opposed the passage and implementation of the tax, authoring an Other Voices commentary in The Union this week.
El Dorado County filed a Petition for Redetermination, and submitted a letters to state officials indicating the county’s payment of the fee was provided under protest.
State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), who opposes the fire fee, issued a statement praising the El Dorado supervisors.
“This is the right move for the county, and I’m glad to see them fight this illegal tax,” said Gaines.
“Whether this tax is levied on an individual property owner, a business or a county, it’s just as wrong and needs to be reversed. I strongly encourage other jurisdictions in the 1st Senate District to follow El Dorado County’s lead and join the fight.”
El Dorado County’s letter argues that the fire fee is actually a tax, which requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. The bill imposing the fire fee garnered only a simple majority of votes.
“For this reason,” the letter states, “the County of El Dorado pays the Fire Prevention Fee under protest and reserves all rights to pursue a refund of said amount through judicial action or otherwise.”
It is expected that the HJTA complaint against the fee will be amended in the coming weeks to add additional plaintiffs, including El Dorado County.
Information about the lawsuit is available at http://www.firetaxprotest.org. Additional information about the fee, including a list of recommended actions regarding payment, is available on the county’s website at http://www.edcgov.us.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.
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