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Local Fire Measures Hurt By State Prevention Fee?

Since the first state fire prevention fees were mailed out, in the summer of 2012, it’s been even harder for districts to pass separate local tax measures. At least 32 measures have been on the ballot since then and 21 have failed, including two proposed by the Higgins Fire District where virtually all property owners are in the State Responsibility Area. District Public Information Officer Pete Marchinek says he’s not sure how much the state fee has been a factor. But he says it did seem that many property owners didn’t think a local fee increase was necessary, not realizing that the state fee does not benefit the district…

click to listen to Pete Marchinek


The state fee goes toward fire prevention for CalFire. Local tax measures go toward maintaining fire department staffing and resources. Higgins District Board Chairman Bruce Jones says it’s unlikely the distinction played a major role in the defeat of their measure…

click to listen to Bruce Jones

Jones says a bigger factor was what he called a well-organized anti-tax campaign. Still, the latest measure did get 59-percent support in August. But Marchinek says the two-thirds approval needed remains a big obstacle. At least 35 local tax measures were introduced before the state fire fee went into effect, with only 11 failing. There is a 35-dollar discount on the state fee for property owners also covered by a local fire district. That applies to 98-percent of properties. Bills have been introduced to repeal the fee but have not passed.

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