SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) on Monday released the following statement after the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District revealed that an internal audit, overdue by three years, found $6.2 million in operating funds that Fire Board members apparently did not know existed.
“While East Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s discovery of an additional $6.2 million is positive news for residents, it also raises some very troubling questions. I am pleased that my East County constituents will be better protected in the short term with unexpected new funds to improve fire service. But I ask the following: How did the District not know it had $6.2 million in surplus funds – especially when it had repeatedly asked residents to increase their taxes to pay for improved fire service?
The discovery of these funds, while it does represent a sizable percentage of the District’s yearly operating budget, does nothing to solve ECCFPD’s long-term funding problem. All of us who call East County home have been and continue to be concerned about keeping families and property safe. As an East County resident and as your representative in the State Assembly, I authored AB 898 as one method of identifying funds to improve fire safety and emergency medical response – a solution that did not rely in any way on raising taxes. I can see that there is much more work to be done to get the District’s finances stabilized and on track. Given this revelation, I am placing a hold at this time on moving AB 898 forward.
I will remain open to helping ECCFPD any way I am able once we know more about what this audit found, and what future mandated audits may find, in order to evaluate and reassess the district’s financial situation.”