General Contact Number: (530) 621-5567

Assessor

Cal Fire Fee Update March 10th 2014,

Karl Weiland, El Dorado County Assessor

 

The 2013/2014 CAL FIRE Fee bills are due to be mailed by Cal Fire to El Dorado County property owners starting the week of March 10th.  Below are some Do's and Don'ts and other useful information to help you understand and deal with this fee enacted by the California Legislature.

  • DO check your Cal Fire Fee bill for accuracy
    • If you were not the owner of the property on July 1, 2013, file a protest with Cal Fire (see link to form below) including copies of closing statement or grant deed as documentation.
    • If your property is located in the City of Placerville, the City of South Lake Tahoe and you receive a bill, file a protest and attach a copy of your Property Tax bill as documentation. Highlight the Tax Rate Area field on your bill (property in the city of Placerville Tax Rate Areas' start with 001, South Lake Tahoe with 002). If your property is located in a Federal Responsibility Area (FRA) and you receive a bill, file a protest with Cal Fire and attach a copy of your lease.
    • If the number of habitable structures is wrong, file a protest with Cal Fire and explain why the number is wrong. You may need to contact the Assessor if your property records are incorrect. To see the Assessor's on line property information:
      • If you have access to the  Internet, go to: http://www.edcgov.us/Assessor/
      • Click the "On Line Property Information" link on the left.
      • Enter your APN and verify the total units shown in the Property Characteristics section.
      • If the total units are correct, file a protest and attach the Assessor's property information as documentation.
      • If the total units are incorrect, contact the Assessor's office for further assistance. 
       
    • If your property is located within the boundary of a local agency that provides fire protection and you do not get the $35 discount:
      • If you have access to the Internet, go to http://www.edcgov.us/Assessor/
      • Click the "On Line Property Information" link on the left.
      • Enter your APN locate the chart that shows the districts that provide service to your property.  If one of these districts
        provides fire protection, then make a copy of the page and highlight the Fire protection district.
      • File a protest and submit the Assessor's Property information as documentation.
      • If no Fire Protection district is listed, contact the fire district you believe provides protection to obtain the documentation to submit with your protest.
       
     
  • DO NOT mail your protest and your payment together. Make sure you follow the directions for each item. If you protest, you will receive a notice from Cal Fire with the decision within 60 days. If your protest is denied and you have not paid the bill, penalties may be applied.
  • If your bill is accurate, it must be paid within 30 days from the notice date or a 20% penalty and interest will accrue.
  • DO make copies for your own records.
  • DO write "Paid in Protest" on the bill and the check. This may be important if the courts order refunds.
  • The official Cal Fire website for obtaining a protest form and other information is:  http://www.firepreventionfee.org/
  • The protest website sponsored by State Board of Equalization member George Runner is: http://www.calfirefee.com/
  • If you do not have access to the internet, contact the El Dorado County Assessor for assistance. The main office is located
    at 360 Fair lane in Placerville and Office hours are 7 - 5:30 M-F, and the phone # is 530.621.5719. In South Lake Tahoe the office is located at 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd, Suite 103, and the phone # is 530.573.3422.

NEW INFORMATION FROM CAL FIRE
FOR 2013

What if I cannot afford to pay the entire bill? Can I make payments?

Homeowners may file a petition without payment if they are financially unable to pay the amount in full. The Board of Equalization (BOE) advises the owner to make an initial payment of any amount they can reasonably afford, with a note explaining what they are able to pay per month. Another alternative is to call the BOE and speak to collection staff, who will make notes on the account of the payment terms. The BOE is working with callers to make payments over a 5-10 month period if needed. The BOE is sensitive to the many factors to consider such as fixed incomes or unemployment, and these are not business owners but rather private citizens. When any homeowner enters into a payment plan within 45 days of billing and completes the payment of the fee portion, the BOE relieves the penalty charge. Additionally, interest accrues on any unpaid fee amount over the course of the payment plan, but is generally well under a dollar a month. BOE would also like to remind feepayers with an inability to pay their fire fee billing in full that they can call BOE toll-free at 1-800-400-7115, and select option "4," to be connected to a representative in the special taxes and fees section who can help them arrange a payment plan suitable to each feepayer's financial situation.

Will I have to pay the fee for fiscal year 2012/2013 if my property was removed from SRA as a result of the 2013 focused
review?


Yes, the 2013 SRA changes were approved by the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection on May 8, 2013. This new SRA map will be used to determine structures in the SRA for the Fire Prevention Fee effective July 1, 2013; the 2014 bills will reflect these changes.
Consequently, if you owned the property on July 1, 2012, you would be responsible for paying the fee in 2013 because the fee is assessed once a year on the owner of record as of July 1 of the fiscal year in which the fee is due.

INFORMATION FOR REAL ESTATE
PROFESSIONALS:

  • The legislation states that the owner of record on July 1st is responsible for the bill. The Assessment roll on which the bills are prepared contains the owner as of the lien date January 1st. That means the data in these bills is twenty months old. Some of the mailing addresses may have been corrected.
    • If a property transferred prior to July 1st, the old owner should file a protest and submit copies of closing statements
      as documentation. If a property transferred after July 1st, the old owner is still responsible for the bill. This is not something that can be ignored because the property sold. The penalties are brutal.
    • This from the Cal Fire FAQ's:
      • I do not own the property for which the fee is due. How do I get this resolved? 

        The person responsible for paying the fee for the 2013-14 fiscal year is the owner of record as of July 1, 2013 on the County Assessor rolls, or as recorded in the records of the California Department of Housing and Community Development. This is the case regardless of whether the owner of record at that time is still the property owner now. The July 1st date is used because that is the same date used for the issuance of property tax bills. If you no longer own the property, you will not be subject to this fee for that particular property in future years.
        
  • ยง Sec. 30 of the Revenue & Taxation code "Fee collection Procedures" in part states:
    • 55141.  (a) If any person fails to pay any amount imposed pursuant to this part at the time that it becomes due and
      payable, the amount thereof, including penalties and interest, together with any costs in addition thereto, shall thereupon be a perfected and enforceable state tax lien. Such a lien is subject to Chapter 14 (commencing with Section 7150) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code.
     
  • The billing formula is $150 per habitable structure, less a credit of $35 for property in a district where fire protection is
    provided. By our counts, there are only about 250 properties that should get billed the full $150.
  • This is from the CAL FIRE FAQ Web page section on "How were habitable structures identified?"

How Were Habitable Structures Identified?

The owners of SRA habitable structures are identified by a joint effort between CAL FIRE and the Designated Fee Administrator (DFA) under contract to CAL FIRE. The DFA is a firm that specializes in the administration of benefit fees and other levies for governmental agencies throughout California. Determination of habitable structures, as required by state law, is technical and use of the DFA gains accuracy and efficiency.

CAL FIRE maintains boundaries of State Responsibility Areas (SRA) in a spatial database and has worked with the DFA to locate parcels and habitable structures that are within SRA boundaries. As part of its ongoing business, the DFA has statewide property data that comes from a variety of sources, including electronic parcel and mapping information. All of this information was used to identify habitable structures.

If a property owner feels that the information used to identify their habitable structures is incorrect, they should contact the Fire Prevention Fee Service Center directly because only the Service Center, which is part of the DFA, and CAL FIRE are responsible for the fee determinations. The DFA and CAL FIRE will also handle the review of any potentially incorrect fees or incorrect property information.