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Montecito Fire Opposes New State Fire Fees

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill X129 in July 2011. The law approved a new annual fire prevention fee to pay for fire prevention services provided by CAL Fire and other state agencies. The fees will impact residents in all California unincorporated areas that are within the state’s responsibility lands. These are lands in which the state assumes primary financial responsibility for protecting natural resources and watershed from damages from fire. Montecito Fire Board of Directors adopted a resolution on Monday that suggests the new SRA or “State Responsibility Area” fees are a financial burden for many Montecito residents. Fire Chief Chip Hickman opposes the newly implemented fees, saying they’re excessive and a double tax. The board says the money collected goes directly to CAL Fire and does not provide additional fire services to Montecito residents.”It has always been the Board’s desire to avoid imposing additional taxes or fees upon the District’s constituents,” said Roy Jenson, Montecito Fire District Board President. “We want to make it clear that this new fee is not imposed by the District, and will not directly benefit the community in any way.”People living in these designated areas anywhere in California will receive a bill charging them up to $150 per habitable structure on their property. Those in the tri-counties will receive a $35 discount in the fee reducing it to $115. The reduction is given because all three counties have their own organized fire department. Many Californians are protesting the bills after they arrive in the mail. The first of the bills were sent out last week. They’re being sent out in alphabetical order by county. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo residents will receive the bills some time in October. Ventura residents sometime thereafter. Requests for exemption or clarification should be directed to CALFire and the BOE. Their contact information can be foundhere You can also call 888-310-6447.KEY News Reporter Shirin Rajaee reports.

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