Jun 17, 2014 4:51 PM by ASSOCIATED PRESS
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - State forestry officials for the first time are preparing to give counties some of the money raised through a controversial assessment on property owners in wildfire-prone areas.
It will be awarded as part of a one-time grant process after lawmakers included a $10 million appropriation in the state budget for the coming fiscal year.
The rest of the money that is supposed to be returned to counties is being held in savings while a lawsuit challenges the legality of the so-called "fire fee."
The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says spending the money for fire-prevention efforts will be a top priority. California's prolonged drought has produced dangerous summer fire conditions.
The department cannot yet say when the grants might be awarded or what programs will be funded.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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