RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — Homeowners are finding out they’re due part of $1.3 million in refunds after paying a fire tax they didn’t owe.

A Call Kurtis investigation exposed how much Sac Metro Fire didn’t plan to return the money it shouldn’t have collected in the first place.

Karen Eckhert found out for the first time on Tuesday that she’s getting $800 back for paying a fire tax she didn’t owe.

“Complete surprise,” she said.

She and some of her neighbors attended the workshop to fill out refund applications.

Metro Fire admits wrongly collecting more than $2 million in taxes since 2005 from 3,800 Rancho Cordova property owners, even though they live outside the fire district.

Partial refunds were issued, but in March, our investigation uncovered Metro Fire wasn’t going to return $1.3 million it collected prior to 2009. The agency claimed it couldn’t do it under state law.

“According to legal counsel the statute of limitation is four years,” Deputy Chief Chris Holbrook told us in March.

It was that investigation that spurred Assemblyman Ken Cooley to write an urgency bill to get around the problem. It was signed by the governor and cleared the way for all eight years of fees to be refunded.

“I work hard for my money just retired, and we just paid this money which we shouldn’t have paid,” said Daphne Abdeen. “It’s not fair they just take our money like this.”

It turns out she never got the first partial refund, which means she’s owed the full $800, righting a wrong that went unnoticed for years.

“I’m glad somebody did something and we got the audit and we’re getting the money back,” she said.

Refund applications must be filled out by Dec. 31 when the law expires. Otherwise property owners will be out of luck.

Metro Fire says eligible property owners who already received the partial refund were automatically issued checks for the rest of what they’re owed.


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