Where Did the Money Go?
Fire Tax Spending Mystery

In Fiscal Year 2009, the La Habra Heights Fire Department had a Full-Time Fire Chief, a Full-Time Fire Marshal, and Full-Time Secretary.

According to the City website, the City staffed 2 engines daily and the paramedic squad.

The Fire Tax raised $972,000.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the Fire Tax raised $967,000.

However, the Fire Marshal and Secretary were eliminated, and the Fire Chief was reduced to a part-time position.

The staffing was reduced by 50% to only 1 engine per day, along with the paramedic.

The fire fighters received no pay in 2009, or 2012.

That almost identical funding has resulted in substantial staff and service cuts raises the question of, where did the money go?

As a special voter approved tax, uses of the Fire Tax are limited and proper accounting required.

Seeking to find an answer to that question, a Public Records Request was submitted to the City on March 28, 2013, asking to see documents showing the expenditures from the 2012 Fire Tax.

The State Public Records Act requires prompt access to public records.

On April 16, 2013, the City sent a letter, stating in part, "The public records request is very broad and all encompassing. We need an understanding of what your are referring to as expenditures."

In an in-person visit to clarify the request, the city was asked to see the fire tax portion of the ledger from the computer files.
The response was that the Fire Tax spending could not be segmented and the entire ledger would have to be printed out.

In the past year, residents have increasingly voiced concerns at City Council meetings of obstruction and delay of release of City records.