It was supposed to save the state money, but a law that imposes an annual wildfire fee on rural residents may have an unintended consequence, sapping the state fire agency of money it needs to fight wildfires.
Democrats in the Legislature passed the $150-a-year fee, believing it eventually would raise $200 million a year. That would allow the state to transfer an equal amount of money from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to the general fund budget.
But it turns out that under the law, proceeds from the fee must go to local fire-prevention efforts through local fire districts, fire councils or the California Conservation Corps, not the state fire department.
George Gentry, chief operating officer of the Board of Forestry, told The Associated Press that will leave the department with a hole in its firefighting budget this year.