The controversial rural fire fee will undergo further scrutiny and debate after it was revealed that millions of dollars were diverted from fire responsibility costs and into a fund used to collect damages from fire starters and for District Attorneys. The diversion of funds is being likened to the secret Parks fund that held huge surpluses for decades.

Already a source of controversy, the revelation that $3.6 million of the rural property fee revenue had been sent to a fund operated by the California District Attorneys Association. That fund went to purchase equipment ranging from digital cameras to radios and even training session. The $150 fee is also being formally reclassified a tax.

Should the legislature approve the transition to a tax, revenue could go to provide permanent funding for 14 employees who work to collect damages from those who start fires. Currently, money is being used on a temporary basis from the fee. At least one Democratic Assembly member has raised concerns similar to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, saying that the public’s money isn’t being used as promised.

Read the full article at the Willits News.