Updated 7 a.m. Sept. 21

IFPD's bank balance is now $20,000, according to Commissioner Ben Killingsworth. At last night's (Sept 20) special meeting, the Commission agreed to cash its $125,000 certificate of deposit. They discussed requesting a $350,000 loan from Riverside county. This will be decided at a continuation of last night's meeting, today, Sept. 21, at 1 p.m. at the Fire Station.

Although the Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s finances are close to nothing, no action was taken at the Idyllwild Fire Protection District meeting on Sept. 13. But the meeting foreshadowed the district’s dire circumstances, which must be address at several special meetings scheduled this month and then over the next couple of months.

Special meeting
The commission held a special meeting Tuesday night, Sept. 20. The meeting occurred after the paper’s deadline and the results of that meeting will be reported online and in the next edition.Two actions were on the proposed agenda. First, the commission will consider cashing in a Certificate of Deposit (CD) to cover immediate funding shortages.

Next, the commission will discuss and make a decision regarding borrowing money from Riverside County to cover expenses through December 2011.

In December 2010, total revenues were less than $300,000. So, if some of the funds are used to repay the county, the question is how will IFPD have enough money to continue through the winter until the next big revenue payment arrives in May? Even January’s $300,000 is only sufficient for two months and very little revenue is received in March and April.

Chief Norm Walker did meet with 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s staff several weeks ago, but did not address the district’s impending financial circumstances. Verne Lauritzen, Stone’s chief of staff, says the supervisor could give IFPD all of his discretionary funds, but that’s only $400,000 this year and wouldn’t leave any for other parts of the Third District.

Requesting a loan could become more than pro forma given the county’s own financial issues (see story on page 1). Ray Smith, the county’s public information officer, commented, “The county will review any request and then respond.”

Nevertheless, Lauritzen said any loan would have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and he would not be surprised if the supervisors consider some conditions with the loan.

Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelley, who regularly laments the district’s frequent special meetings (another is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26 to approve the 2011-12 budget), says the paperwork for the loan should have been submitted in April.

“This is a long-term problem where we’re spending more than we have,” he said.

Regular meeting
During the Sept. 13 meeting, Treasurer and Commissioner Ben Killingsworth reported that the anticipated $88,000 for property assessments from the County would not be coming. “We’ve already received that money,” he said.

The commission also had no financial report at the meeting. But expenses for July were more than $162,000, resulting in the use of about $120,000 of the district’s carry-over cash from previous years. On July 31, IFPD had nearly $300,000 available for expenses until the current year tax revenues begin to arrive in December.

On Wednesday, Rhonda Andrewson, IFPD’s administrative assistant, provided the current bank account balances — only $57,000. In the past two years, IFPD has only received an average of about $150,000 in revenue during October and November.

Expenses continued at close to the $160,000 per month rate in August.

Another item of discussion during the meeting was the recent promotion of Engineer Mark LaMont to administrative captain. This occurred while the district’s finances were deterioriating. Captain Alan Lott, acting for Chief Walker, said LaMont had signed an agreement requiring no actual compensation for the promotion and increased responsibilities. However, the district has not released this agreement.

In the recent response to the grand jury, the commission complimented LaMont’s financial work. “The IFPD Administrative Captain who prepares the monthly expenditures is highly skilled in this area,” the commission told the grand jury. However, no financial reports or summaries were available for the board’s review.

Lott told the commission that another increase in the ambulance fees and mileage charges would be proposed in October.

Other business, which the commission deferred until October, included reviewing the revised administrative regulations (Policy 107), a discussion of electing officers, changing the meeting date (for the third time in past three years), and appointment of a recording secretary for closed meetings.

On the left, Idyllwild Fire Protection District Fire Marshall Jack Peckham holds up the plans for the new library, which he received from the architects via email. On the right, Peckham holds the 15-pound set of plans, which were delivered to him last week. Photos by J.P. Crumrine