The Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) has asked Riverside County for a $450,000 loan. Technically, it might be considered an advance of $450,000 from the agency’s 2011-12 property taxes.
It may take the county four to six weeks to review the request, according to Verne Lauritzen, 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s chief of staff. “The county will very carefully review all the numbers,” he said.
The IFPD commission met twice last week to try to patch the department’s finances for the fiscal year. On Tuesday night, the commission agreed to cash the department’s $125,000 Certificate of Deposit, which was only acquired this spring.
Eighty thousand dollars was set aside for current payroll costs and the $45,000 balance was deposited into IFPD’s checking account.
The next step was approval of the wording of the loan request to Riverside County. However, this action was delayed until Wednesday afternoon so that the entire commission could review the draft letter to the county.
Former Commissioner and Treasurer Ben Killingsworth, who resigned this week (see story, page 24), prepared an analysis of the district’s estimated revenues and expenditures between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2011.
Killingsworth projected a deficit of $350,000, plus repayment of the CD. But as announced Tuesday, IFPD’s checking and cash balances had declined to $20,000.
The next day, the commission, with the exception of Killingsworth, voted to request $450,000, which is to be repaid before June 30, 2012, the end of the fiscal year.
IFPD Vice President Paul Riggi signed the letter request and mailed it later Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 21.
For the past two years, from October through December, the average total revenue has been about $470,000 — $262,000 from property tax receipts and $207,000 from other sources.
Killingswoth estimated expenditures to be about $140,000 per month, which would be $420,000 total, plus refinancing the CD, which was originally set aside for personnel benefits.
At the Sept. 26 special meeting, Fire Chief Norm Walker delivered an estimate of the agency’s cash needs during the next three months. He was more optimistic and projected the December cash balance would be about $250,000 without relying on loan proceeds.
However, he agreed that his estimate was on the high side and thought the loan request was prudent, emphasizing that IFPD’s finances were not in dire straits.