The Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) election forum is tonight at 5:30 p.m. It will be in the conference room at the Idyllwild Nature Center. State Sen. Bill Emmerson has agreed to moderate the evening.

Idyllwild has six candidates for two seats. Both incumbents, Commission President Pete Capparelli and Paul Riggi, are seeking re-election and being challenged by four others.

Jerry Buchanan, Larry Donahoo, Paul Miglin and Mark Spehar are seeking to join the commission.

Ballots have been mailed and must be returned to the Registrar of Voter’s office by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30.

I encourage anyone interested in the IFPD to attend. Of course, Idyllwild voters are especially welcome, but County Service Area (CSA) 38 residents may want to attend and ask questions themselves.

While they cannot vote in the election, CSA 38 residents may have friends whom they can urge to vote for an especially Pine Cove-friendly candidate or oppose one that seems to ignore Pine Cove.

After all, CSA 38 pays IFPD more than $90,000 annually for ambulance service.

But the election is not just about Pine Cove and its ambulance service. Idyllwild voters may have questions about Measure G, which is also on the ballot.

This measure proposes to raise the ceiling for the unit fee, affectionately known as parcel fee, from $65 to $130 annually.

Residents may want to know more about its justification. For example, if the fee is doubled, the yield in new revenue would be about $200,000 more each year. Is that enough for new equipment or new ambulances?

Given how much is said about the low salaries IFPD pays its firefighters, how much of the money would be needed to finance raises and future benefits?

If Measure G were approved, would the commission raise the fee to $130 annually? If they didn’t, would less money provide the necessary funding that IFPD needs?

Commissioner and Treasurer Ben Killingsworth doesn’t want to refer to the agency’s cash as reserves. But how much do they have?

IFPD has less than $400,000 available at of the end of fiscal year 2011. This is the cash they’ll need and use until the 2012-11 tax revenues are transferred, which won’t happen until December.

Compare IFPD with local water districts. Idyllwild Water, which services half the fire district, has nearly $2 million in reserve. Fern Valley Water District has nearly $1.25 million. So how long must IFPD collect that extra $200,000 to build comparable reserves?

And, is the commission willing to protect those funds and avoid using them for regular operations or would the district’s expenses gradually grow at the expense of accumulating reserves.

Please come out and meet these six men — no women candidates this year.

You can ask the incumbents about accomplishments or ask the challengers about plans or changes.

What about one of the longtime favorite topics — inspections? We’re all for more inspections, especially of our neighbor’s property, but was the inspection of our property a little too nit-picky?

Letters to the editor
I want to thank all the individuals who wrote this week. We received 11 letters; I don’t know if that is a record, but it sure indicates interest in the community.

I just want to remind prospective authors to be considerate of readers and try very hard to constrain your thoughts to letter length (400 words) rather than essay length (600 or more words).