The county is once again stepping out of line with its proposal to raise its Fire Suppression Benefit Assessment for Topanga homeowners. When voters passed Proposition 13, we made a clear statement that property taxes are already too high, and that they must be controlled. The statement was clear that government must control costs, not merely increase revenues whenever that is convenient.
Further fees are simply not warranted. To request a 20-year indefinite assessment is ludicrous. Even if a compelling case could be made for a short-term fix, the assessment should be for no more than one year, and should require a thorough review and a fresh vote before it could be renewed. To say that a single family would have to pay $13.99 this year, with a cap for four times that amount, is to say that next year we might be asked to pay $56. It is not unlikely that we would have to pay the maximum every year thereafter for 20 years--taxes are rarely reduced once imposed. Thus, the county is really asking us for close to $1,000.
Topanga, by the way, is the only area in the county other than Palmdale where there are volunteer on-call firefighters as well as Arson Watch volunteers, so many of my neighbors are already contributing more than a fair share to reducing the county's fire suppression costs. I know--I was an Arson Watch volunteer for several years in Topanga, and I spent many hours patrolling to alleviate fire hazards. Enough is enough.
GARY D. DAVIS