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Opinion

The fire fee/tax bill cometh!

Feather Publishing
8/8/2012

 

 

They say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes — and nearly 11,000 residents of Plumas County and 1,550 residents of Sierra County could soon find a new bill lurking at the bottom of their mailboxes for the state responsibility area fire fee many state and county officials say is really a new tax. For some state residents who already pay fire protection fees, this could even be a double tax. Those who already pay fees to a fire protection district will receive a $35 “discount” from the state.

Believe it or not, as many as 825,000 state landowners may receive a fire fee/tax bill soon.

In their oxymoronic wisdom and an eye toward a new source of revenue, the California Legislature passed, and the governor signed, Assembly Bill 29X last year. The bill assesses a $150 “fire prevention fee” on each habitable structure — including mobile homes — on property within a state responsibility fire area. The California Board of Forestry adopted emergency regulations to establish the fee/tax. A private contractor will determine which landowners owe the fee and how much is due. The California Board of Equalization (BOE) will then collect the money. In his signing message, the governor wrote he hopes the legislation will generate $50 million this year and as much as $200 million in general fund savings in the future.

The website goldrushcam.com reported the Legislature approved $6.4 million in funding requested for the BOE to create the billing for and to oversee the collection of the fee. The bulk of the funding will be used to pay for 57 new two-year positions.

According to the bill, “individual owners of structures within state responsibility areas receive a disproportionately larger benefit from fire prevention activities than that realized by the state’s citizens generally. It is the intent of the legislature that the economic burden of fire prevention activities that are associated with structures in state responsibility areas shall be equitably distributed among the citizens of the state who generally benefit from those activities and those owners of structures in the state responsibility areas who receive a specific benefit other than that general benefit.”

Really? Unfortunately, not a single penny collected through this fee/tax will go to firefighting operations. All the money collected will go instead to fire prevention measures, which some interpret as simply helping CalFire balance its budget.

When the kettle boils over, residents should not direct their ire at any local county official or the local CalFire brass or firefighters. This scheme originated in Sacramento and is administered entirely by state bureaucrats. No one at the local level played any role in creating, assessing or collecting this fire fee/tax.

Several watchdog groups and government entities plan to file lawsuits over the fire fee/tax once state residents receive the bills.

Since the state Legislature and the governor apparently are unable to move a coherent thought from one ear to the other, we hope those opposing this fee/tax are successful.

The bright lights in Sacramento shouldn’t be allowed to balance CalFire’s budget by robbing the state’s rural landowners, such as those in Plumas County who will be forced to pay this ridiculous fire fee/tax.

 

Green thumb sprouts late

Debra Moore
Staff Writer
8/1/2012

One by one my friends grew green thumbs. They eagerly anticipated the spring’s first shipment of annual color and would spend hours planting, watering, weeding and rhapsodizing about the results.

I didn’t get it. I tried. Each year I would make the annual trek to buy blooms, feigning interest. I struggled to recall the names of flowers. Anything beyond a daisy or a rose confounded me. I couldn’t even accurately name a pansy from a petunia.

My friends at work would give me a gift certificate to the local nursery for my birthday, which always falls around Memorial Day. They also accompanied me on the shopping spree knowing how shrub-challenged I was. But then the bets would be on to see how long it would take me to kill my plants.

Read more: Green thumb sprouts late

  

Legislative bodies must continue to conduct business openly and transparently

Feather Publishing
8/1/2012

 

The preamble of California’s open meeting law, commonly referred to as the Brown Act, reads “Public commissions, boards, councils and other legislative bodies of local government agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on remaining informed to retain control over the legislative bodies they have created.”

In a shocking, irresponsible and incomprehensible move, the Legislature and the governor struck a severe blow against the people’s sovereignty last month when they refused to provide funding for key provisions of the Brown Act, originally enacted in 1953.

Read more: Legislative bodies must continue to conduct business openly and transparently

  

SPI narrowly escapes government bounty hunters

Feather Publishing
7/25/2012

At least 150 families in Plumas County are probably breathing a sigh of relief right now. They are the people whose livelihood depends on a paycheck from the Sierra Pacific Industries lumber mill in Quincy.

Sierra Pacific agreed to a settlement with the federal government last week that could cost the company more than $122 million in cash and land for its role in the 2007 Moonlight Fire. The fire burned 65,000 acres, including 45,000 acres in the Plumas and Lassen national forests.

Read more: SPI narrowly escapes government bounty hunters

  

Pansies, petunias and politicians: Is it just a popularity contest?

Feather Publishing
7/25/2012

 

Pansies, petunias and politicians, it’s enough flowery posing and artificial sweetness to make me want to yell at somebody to stop being so darn stupid, except that I know they do it on purpose, this pandering for the popular vote.

While you readers know I usually steer clear of politics, Senate Bill 1221 has me in a dither.

If passed, hunting bear and bobcat with dogs would be banned, and it would set a precedent that would likely extend to all hunting breeds, since that appears to be the goal of the Humane Society of the United States.

Read more: Pansies, petunias and politicians: Is it just a popularity contest?

  

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