Section 45-19-140

Forest fire protection.

(a) The County Commission of Coosa County is authorized, when the need exists, to provide protection against forest fires in Coosa County by participating in the Alabama Forestry Commission's fire protection program in the manner hereinafter specified.

(b)(l) After the Coosa County Commission has determined that such a need does exist in Coosa County, the county commission may, in the manner hereinafter specified, provide for a financial charge or tax to be paid by the owners of forest lands located in Coosa County for the use of the land for timber growing purposes amounting to the whole or any part of the cost of such fire protection program, but not in excess of ten cents ($0.10) per acre, provided such financial charge or tax is not greater than the benefit accruing to such forest lands due to the availability of such fire protection.

(2) "Forest lands" as used in this section, shall mean any land which supports a forest growth, or which under prevailing natural and economic conditions may be expected to support such a growth in the future, or which is being used or reserved for any forest purpose. "Forest lands" as used in this section, shall not include any lands primarily used for residential purposes nor shall it include any publicly owned lands.

(c) The need for such a financial charge or tax to provide forest fire protection within the county shall be determined by the county commission after a public hearing is held thereon. Notice of such public hearing shall be given by the county commission for a period of two consecutive weeks by advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation in Coosa County. Such advertisement shall indicate the date, time, and place of the hearing, the manner proposed to finance such fire protection program, and the part of the cost of such program that is proposed to be paid by the owners of forest lands. Any person owning forest land in Coosa County may appear in person or by attorney at such time and place and make defense against such financial charge or tax or the amount thereof. After such hearing the county commission shall determine whether or not a need exists for such a charge or tax; and if a need is found to exist for such financial charge or tax, the county commission shall determine the amount of such financial charge or tax and enter on the minutes of the county commission an order fixing such financial charge or tax.

(d) Any such financial charge or tax fixed as provided in subsection (c) shall be payable at the same time and in the same manner as county taxes and the owners of the forest lands, shall make report of same to the Tax Assessor of Coosa County at the time fixed by law for making return of the property of such property owner. Financial charges or taxes levied shall constitute a lien on the property against which they are charged or taxed in case of default in the payment of such financial charge or tax the land may be sold in the same manner and under the same conditions that lands are sold for the satisfaction of liens for county ad valorem taxes and redemption from such sale may be effected in the same manner as is provided by law for redemption where land is sold for nonpayment of ad valorem taxes.

(e) The County Commission of Coosa County is authorized to appoint agents and delegate authority to individuals to search out forest lands in Coosa County, determine the area and owners thereof, and report same to the Tax Assessor of Coosa County who shall be authorized, after notice by certified mail to the owners, and hearing before the county commission if so requested by the owners, to place the financial charge or tax against the forest lands as may be determined by the report of the agents or the determination of the county commission.

(f) All monies accruing to Coosa County shall be placed in the general fund of the county and shall only be spent by the county commission in participating in the Alabama Forestry Commission's forest fire protection program in Coosa County.

(g) The County Commission of Coosa County is authorized to remove such financial charge or tax after the county commission has determined that the financial charge or tax is no longer needed. The county commission shall hold public hearings to determine whether or not the financial charge or tax is still needed. Procedures for such public hearing shall be the same as those in subsection (c).

(Act 79-649, p. 1128, §§1-7.)