EAST CONTRA COSTA -- The financially troubled East Contra Costa Fire District is among dozens of government agencies that are late submitting mandatory financial documents to the state.

The state Controller's Office this week issued a final warning letter to the fire agency, one of 117 special districts and nine cities that missed the deadline for filing accounting reports required of local governments each year.

All are one year or more overdue even though they received certified letters notifying them that they're facing a financial penalty.

East Contra Costa Fire has yet to provide a so-called financial transactions report for the 2011-12 fiscal year, the deadline for which was Oct. 18, 2012.

The district also was late filing the same form for 2010-11 and 2007-08, although only by two weeks in the first case and two days in the second.

No penalties were assessed either time.

Reached for comment Friday, Fire Chief Hugh Henderson said he would have to research the matter. It remains unclear whether the district filed paperwork for 2012-13, which was due Friday.

The report provides a snapshot of the district's financial operations, detailing its revenue, expenses and debt over the previous 12 months. The document also includes how much the agency spent on wages and benefits for each employee.


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The state collects this data so that the public can monitor the financial health of the agencies serving them and government officials can make informed decisions about how best to spend taxpayers' money, said Jacob Roper, press secretary for the controller's office.

If an agency is hiring, for example, it can analyze salary information for comparable positions in other areas of California to determine what a competitive wage would be, he said.

Or, in the case of a fire district, board directors can keep expenses in check by finding out how much similar agencies are spending on equipment and maintenance, Roper said.

If East Contra Costa Fire doesn't get its 2011-12 paperwork in by Dec. 31, auditors might be assigned to go through its books to obtain the information at the district's cost.

The state Attorney General's Office already is involved, having notified the fire district that it will forfeit $5,000 in state funds.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.