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Gov. Jerry Brown's quest to impose a fire fee on rural homeowners has run into another delay.

The state Board of Forestry and Fire Protection has withdrawn its latest version of a $150 annual charge on 800,000 property owners in rural California, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. The board plans to revisit the issue in January for the third time since Brown and lawmakers authorized the fee in their June budget.

Brown said the fee was necessary to pay for fire services as more residents have moved into rural areas of the state.

After Brown restocked the fire board this fall with new members, the panel approved an emergency regulation last month to bill property owners $150 each, with a $35 credit for those situated in fire districts. Before withdrawing the proposal this week, the board sent the regulation to the state Office of Administrative Law with an expectation the state would bill property owners by June.

It was not immediately clear why the board wants to revise its fee, but Berlant confirmed an Ag Alert commentary this week that said the panel may seek to exempt buildings such as hospitals and county jails.


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