At a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 1, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission unanimously voted to send a letter to County Executive Jay Orr requesting an advance payment from the district’s December property tax receipts.

“We will start October with an estimated $50,000 on hand, and expect to receive approximately $150,000 from various other income sources between October 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012. Meanwhile, our expenses, including our payroll October 1 through December 10, 2011, will amount to approximately $400,000,” wrote IFPD President Jeannine Charles-Stigall.

She then made the request, “Using a figure of $500,000 in order to cover any unexpected expenses, and comparing that to the $200,000 now available to us between October 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012, we request an advance in the amount of $425,000, to be repaid … by deducting it in stages from our secured property tax income.”

This is the second consecutive time IFPD has needed an advance in order to pay its expenses through the fall.

The commission agreed to request $425,000 this year, $25,000 less than the 2011 request. Also this year, the letter was being sent in August. A year ago, the commission waited until September 21 to submit the emergency request.

The draft letter originally proposed asking for the same amount as in 2011, but at the suggestion of Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly, the whole commission agreed to request $425,000 in order to demonstrate that the financial situation has improved since 2011.

“We’re going in the right direction,” he said.

Commissioner Pete Capparelli asked if “we know we’ll need the money?”

Interim Fire Chief Mike Sherman and Commissioner Jerry Buchanan assured him and the other commission members that the funds would be needed for anticipated expenses through November.

However, Sherman did make the point that IFPD’s cash need has declined since 2011. “It’s a lesser amount. We needed about $450,000 then. And a year ago, you took a $125,000 CD for accrued leave and used it for payroll, for a total of $575,000. So you’re $125,000 better than last year.”

Sherman attributed the improvement to the combination of commission actions, management direction and the department’s labor group, working as team.

He also urged the commission to work toward building a $100,000 reserve this fiscal year.