SACRAMENTO, CA - Hundreds of thousands of rural property owners in California will be shelling out up to $150 a year so that Cal Fire can continue to protect them from fires.
It's controversial legislation that the Gov. Jerry Brown signed earlier this year.
Last week, many residents received notice from the state that they will be assessed a new annual fire protection fee called the State Responsibility Area Fee. The SRA fees will raise about $89 million a year for fire prevention efforts.
Many of the 800,000 people affected are just starting to get the bills in the mail and many of them aren't happy about it. Some residents said that fee is more like a tax.
"I think it's ridiculous. It's a fee. I don't want the service. So it's not a fee. It's tax," El Dorado Hills resident Dennis Ferguson said.
He said he already pays for fire prevention.
"I have fire protection. I've been paying taxes for El Dorado Hills Fire for 35 years here and it's a great fire department and they're going to be here hours before Cal Fire gets here," Ferguson explain.
El Dorado Hills Fire said it already does a lot of fire prevention for their local residents and is taking a stand against the fees.
"The imposition of these fees on just the rural residents is unfair because the protection of those resources actually benefits all of California," El Dorado Hills Fire Chief Dave Roberts said.
Meanwhile, others said the new fee is a small price to pay to keep their home safe.
The bills are being sent to counties in alphabetical order. Among the first residents to be affected are those in Amador, Butte and Calaveras counties. Residents who want to dispute the fee may file a petition within 30 days of the mailing date shown on the notice.
By Suzanne Phan, email@example.com