El Dorado Hills Fire Department opposes to state fire prevention fee

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The El Dorado Hills Fire Department Board of Directors adopted a resolution opposing the newly implemented State Responsibility Area fees, which will impose additional financial burden on its constituents without providing additional fire services. “The El Dorado Hills Fire Department has opposed the CalFire State Responsibility Area fee from its inception,” said El Dorado Hills Fire Chief Dave Roberts. “Recently the Board of Directors has adopted a resolution against the fee.” State Responsibility Area fees mandate many homeowners living in forested or wildfire-prone areas to pay an annual fee of $150 to the State of California for fire-prevention services. The Fire Districts Association of California, the El Dorado County Fire Chief’s Association, The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and the El Dorado Hills Fire Department have actively opposed the bill on behalf of its fire district members since the idea was presented a few years ago as a way to generate additional revenues for the state. El Dorado Hills has homes located in these State Responsibility Areas, which are designated zones already primarily protected by the El Dorado Hills Fire Department. These homeowners already pay local taxes for year-round fire prevention and protection services, according to local fire officials. It is the position of El Dorado Hills Fire Department that this annual $150 State Responsibility Area fee is onerous to the residents who will not see any direct benefit from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), the state’s wild land firefighting agency. Local fire districts will not receive any of the estimated $125 million collected as the state struggles to fill its budget gaps. El Dorado Hills Fire Department did not support this legislation nor believe that this fee should be imposed on its residents. California’s Master Mutual Aid System, which is a model for the rest of the nation, has for decades inspired collaboration between local fire agencies and the state and will be jeopardized by these fees. Local fire agencies are concerned that with the implementation of the State Responsibility Area fees, any future measures supporting local fire protection, prevention and paramedic services will simply not be approved by voters on top of the State Responsibility Area fee charged by the state putting the local agency and its constituents at risk. If it is the will of the State Legislature to reduce the burden on the State’s General Fund for CalFire costs, an alternative and more equitable mechanism is necessary, according to officials at the El Dorado Hills Fire Department. ~ Laura Newell