Should IFPD [Idyllwild Fire Protection District] seek higher property taxes to pay its bills? Absolutely not!

This won’t fix its crumbling foundation, enabled by careless and uncontrolled spending. Its employees are paid higher than any other firefighter in the region, in some cases more than double. They have a full ride on their retirements, an expensive, dangerous, and unsustainable short-term, not to mention long-term proposition. Their cash flow and insolvency is immediate.

Did we really think five years of failed audits were an oversight?

Please understand that the district ended up here because of the union stranglehold and business community flexing its muscles to pressure the board and chiefs to lower the ISO rating (commercial insurance rates drop, not residential) by increasing staffing ratios and guarantees. This is an exploitation by the business community of residential property taxpayers

A 10-percent pay cut, and changing crew staffing ratios to one full-time and two paid-call or volunteers on the engines will go a long way to curb the hemorrhage. The local union and business community need an incentive, specifically the threat of an all volunteer or CAL FIRE force replacing current staffing.

As for ICRC [Idyllwild Community Recreation Council], again the business community wishes to exploit the property tax base for its own benefit. They call it a community center for all, but it’s a convention center for visitors and when not in use by businesses to be used for community events wanting to be funded by property tax payers but owned by town businessmen. Say “No,” until this is a membership or taxpayer owned facility.

I find it interesting that given the number of voting property tax parcels how many businessmen and women have an unbalanced and explicit voting interest in the fire board and ICRC.

Tell them all to take a hike until they represent the real power here, residential property tax payers not town business owners, call it protected speech.

Jeff Smith
Pine Cove

Editor’s note: The career firefighters have an association, not a union.