Out loud: Budgets …

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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s column and apologies to Helene Lohr for leaving the “e” off her first name.

All government agencies affecting us from the county level to the local water districts take their June 30 budget deadline seriously. And they should because we, the people, want to know how our money is being allocated and spent.

But the Idyllwild Fire commission metaphorically threw a budget on the wall and hoped it stuck so it could spend the next three months writing a real one.

Basically, commissioners (excepting Andrewson, who opposed the vote) are telling the public who attend the meetings not to pay attention to them until September — an organization still relying on a one-time lease sale, and in financial trouble.

Here’s examples of the lackadaisical budget preparation: The approved preliminary budget shows $55,000 for dispatch services but the chief has repeatedly said he expects that amount to rise to $80,000.

Only engineers’ salaries show an increase of 50 percent from August to December, we’re told, because of fire crew overtime, but neither captains’ not firefighters’ salaries show an increase and they are sent to fires, too. The chief, who is on the Finance Committee, said that needs to be looked at.

Wasn’t the purpose of forming a Finance Committee to get the budget written, and if they “really chewed on this budget,” as one committee member said, why isn’t it ready? This just reflects the all-over poor management practices of our local department.

Becky Clark, Editor

 

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