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Fire district underestimates cost of helicopter

Andrew McIntosh of The Sacramento Bee used state public records to show that "the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District spent at least $790,000 to refurbish and equip a military surplus helicopter for firefighting and rescues, more than twice the $300,000 budget its elected board originally approved for the project." A member of the fire district's board called the vehicle "a toy for the chief." Eight other California counties or cities have firefighting helicopters. "Documents show district officials grossly underestimated the need for costly spare parts, that some expenses were labeled 'operating costs' when the aircraft wasn't operating and that the board approved the helicopter hoping that it might generate revenue to defray costs, but little money has been raised."

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