Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Audit shows EDCFD $1.4M in the red

From page A1 | February 25, 2013 | 13 Comments

The El Dorado County Fire District Board of Directors received further confirmation of the district’s dismal financial condition Thursday night when its auditor reported a $1.4 million dollar deficit for the prior fiscal year.

Certified Public Accountant Craig Fechter, of Fechter and Company, said the district received $9.7 million in revenues and had $11.1 million in expenses in the past fiscal year.

He also told the board that this was the third consecutive year it has had a deficit of this size.

The main driver of the problem, according to Fechter, was the drop in property tax revenue that declined starting in 2008-2009 at the same time the fire department budget continued to grow.

The auditor said that other fire districts he audits that are also totally reliant on property tax revenue are in a similar position.

Former fire district employee Barbara Rogers chastised the board and asked it to account for where the money went as she complained of the lack of fiscal oversight by the board, fire chief and staff. “How do you lose $1.4 million in one year?” she asked. “You gave raises when you didn’t have the money. Somebody has to be held accountable.”

Ex-board member Col. Tom Mahach said the district apparently didn’t have the million-dollar carryover it thought it had. He asked the district do an internal investigation of how it happened to prevent it from happening again. If it doesn’t, he warned, the grand jury may look into it.

Also discussed at the meeting was a request by Mike Sproull, executive director of the Food Bank of El Dorado County, to waive the fire development fees for a new facility they are building in Shingle Springs.

He said he was told the Food Bank would have to pay $89,000 in fire district fees for the building. He asked the board to waive the fees or at least consider creating a policy that gives the district the flexibility to waive fees for non-profit groups like his.

Responding to questions about the matter, Acting Fire Chief Mike Hardy told the board that the Food Bank plans to build a 20,000 square foot building and the fees would be a little under $25,000, not $89,000. He said there are development fees regardless of who the developer is and they are used to defray district expenses.

“We’re trying to keep the place afloat,” said board President Mark Brunton.

Sproul urged the fire district to be more a part of the community, saying the people he serves did not create the fiscal problems facing the district. He said El Dorado County waives certain fees all the time, and the fire district should develop a similar approach. “I respect your decision,” he said, “but I don’t think it’s the right decision. Do you really want $30,000 from a charity?”

In response, board member Mark Johnson said fire people already do a lot of volunteering and give a great deal back to the community. He also commented that development fees don’t go towards salaries, but towards equipment.

“Development fees give the firemen the tools they need to do their jobs,” said board member Chris Swarbrick.

In other actions, Christopher Vankirk was promoted to captain and the board voted to dispose of surplus equipment.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 13 comments

  • James SmithFebruary 25, 2013 - 7:42 am

    Problem is real simple to fix: Salaries & Pensions Too High!

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  • cookie65February 25, 2013 - 10:32 am

    James Smith, it is the same story repeated in virtually every municipality across America. When the private sector ebbs and flows the public sector continues to require more to feed it and the result is ever expanding debt to the public sector.

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  • Barbara RogersFebruary 25, 2013 - 10:57 am

    In this case, EDCFPD ignored the fact that they had a huge leak in their budget. The 2008-09 FY reflected revenues amounting to $10,957,370 - expenditures $10,610,673 leaving $346,697. In the 2009-10 FY, revenues were $11,898,172, expenditures were 12,935,049, ending the year with a huge deficit of -1,036,877. And we all know the story for the 2011/12 FY. On top of this, the District had to drain every dime in every account they could to balance their budget. They did nothing to stop the bleeding, they just kept spending and giving fat raises. If I ran my household budget like this, we would be living in our car. When are people going to wake up and ask where their tax dollars are going? All you have to do is look at the salaries and benefits, which went up up up. Greed is what drove this deficit. I was not complaining nor was I chastising this board, I was merely asking them to do an investigation into where the dollars went. I also said that if this continues there will no El Dorado County Fire in the future. It was my Chief, Al Herzig from the Placerville Fire Dept. and Armin Winje from the Placerville FPD. that began the talks back in 1989 to form this consolidated district. There were many people who worked very hard to get this accomplished. I think it is time for grand jury to get involved.

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  • SalemFebruary 25, 2013 - 3:05 pm

    Sadly, the administrative staff thought that times weren't hard enough when they decided to accept a 10% raise when the union employees offered a 12% contribution to their retirement and medical. Yes, the administration is contributing the same percentage, but some how feel entitled to a 10% salary increase to offset that personal financial hit. Regardless of increase in duties, time away from the family and long work hours, the union employees are feeling the extra burdens as well with the departure of one of the medic units. So much for comradery. Mr. Smith, I'm sorry that you feel fire fighter/paramedics are paid too much and have a nice retirement. I have a strong feeling you would change your mind when you're handed a dead child and it's your job to save it. Instead, you have time on a Monday morning at 10 minutes til 8 to sit at your coffee table and complain that someone makes more money than you. It's America, if you don't like being a desk jockey, find a better job.

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  • James SmithFebruary 25, 2013 - 7:07 pm

    Yeah, Al Herzig...there's a name from the past. I knew Al back in the 1960's when Firefighters didn't make six figure salaries, gold plated pensions and get a boat load of O/T. Al used to work construction on the side to stay a float. Then the unions got strong, ran out the volunteers and robbed the taxpayers blind.

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  • Phil VeerkampFebruary 25, 2013 - 7:28 pm

    Barbara, thank you for remembering Al and Armin. Were they here today I can imagine they might borrow from The life of Riley, "What a revoltin' development this is!"

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  • Jim RiordanFebruary 26, 2013 - 1:21 am

    I do not like these "runaway" salary increases to ANY government entities any more than any of you. What I am most upset with though is all the EBTs, free medical care , free school lunches , free, free, free you name it for unemployed illegal aliens, while they laugh in our face for being so stupid. Just like their own countries would laugh at them if they went home and asked for the same free ride. None of this is free. WE have to pay for them and frankly I am sick of it. Get all these illegals out of OUR country tomorrow . . .out of the jails , out of free housing, out of BS job programs and out of this country OR, lets begin cutting the jobs of damn government "workers" until they agree to get rid of the freeloaders. It should be apparent to all that we are at the end. The end folks. We cannot print money to get out of this, we must rid ourselves of the freeloaders who take, take, take and put NOTHING back in. It is time these overpaid government bureaucrats either cut back on their fat salaries and retirements or start taking action against the freeloaders who have done nothing but take from the citizens of this Country. If we fail to remove ALL of them, the older people who actually worked to earn money will not have any money to live since all they PAID INTO social security will have been robbed from them to pay freeloaders who vote for the pigs who keep giving them handouts from our (non-government) social security funds which have been robbed blind by stinking washington bureaucrats since the 1950s. Of course their term for robbing is borrowing. In my opinion, all the PERS funds and other government retirement funds should be robbed in exactly the same proportions as social security to pay for these illegal POS in equal proportions. I'm sorry, I have no mercy left. If they are here illegally they must leave NOW before one more stolen dollar is spent on them. After all of them are GONE , then we can see how long social security that we taxpaying, working legal seniors paid into will last. We were forced to pay into the system and we did. All those who are taking from our system instead of paying should be forced to leave tomorrow. My Dad predicted this in 1959 and gave a speech before the senate, of which I have a copy, stating that this exact scenario would unfold. The elected POS did not listen, and now half a century later, every thing he predicted to them has come about.

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  • Jim RiordanFebruary 26, 2013 - 1:35 am

    Please forgive me, my last post was meant for Dawn Hodson's OTHER article on the economy where I have reposted it. It had nothing to do with the above story.

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  • cookie65February 26, 2013 - 10:17 am

    Jim, don't appolgize, you should post it everywhere. In fact make a few thousand copies and drop them out of a plane over the capital... It is the simple reality that most of the country is totally ignorant of and we cannot depend on the pop culture media to tell them.

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  • WilsonFebruary 26, 2013 - 10:24 am

    Mr Smith- you obviously have not been following this story. In this situation the Union has given back, in pension, salaries and overtime reduction. Don't forget staffing. On the otherhand, the guys at the top received a nice raise! Where is chief Bruce Lacher? How come he received ANOTHER raise last month when he's been out for the last few months? It's real easy to blame a reduction in tax revenue...however it's more appropriate to blame the lack of fiscal responsibility from the top when they notice the reduction. It's in fathomable to see an organization where the employees take cuts and the top take raises.

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  • Bruce LacherFebruary 26, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    Me 1 - tax payers 0 Haha. Winning!!!

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  • Foaming at the MouthFebruary 26, 2013 - 8:26 pm

    Jim Riordan - ready, fire, aim.

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  • kyle smithFebruary 28, 2013 - 9:48 am

    The truth must have hurt someone's feelings. Look at the last few agendas and you will see nothing byt looming lawsuits not the least of which will come from the awol chief who got a 5% raise last month...Hummm he also robbed a retiree benefit account of $600K in a futile effort bo balance his fat budget - obviously that didn't work either. What a joke in the taxpayers face!

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