I went to the May 13 meeting of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District just to see what I had missed after months of not attending. Their finances are still desperate. When asked if they were still using the one-time sale of cell tower monies as part of their budget, the answer was yes.
They are in dispute with one of their captains and it was intimated that all this money would go to satisfy this case and shouldn’t be used as a budget item. So this is phantom money, not funding and not ongoing.
In past meetings the commissioners discussed venues for new funding: raising fees or new taxes that would have to be passed by the voters of Fern Valley and Idyllwild.
I realize now that the special tax I encouraged in 2003 in Pine Cove to help support IFPD was wrong. Instead of promoting the enhancement of services to the mountain communities, it only engendered IFPD’s contempt by fostering the attitude that there was a new and endless supply of cash for no extra effort on the part of IFPD. The service did not get better. IFPD is now dead last in response time in the county.
After accepting Pine Cove’s cash, IFPD demanded more and more each year, finally exceeding the limit of $100,000 and pushing it up to $120,000. Then to add insult to injury, IFPD insisted on calling residents of Pine Cove “nonresidents” and charged an extra $300 for each run. By the time this insult was rescinded the contempt that IFPD has for any taxpayer was clear to all.
The contempt IFPD has for Pine Cove is now spreading to all the inhabitants of the Hill. Since the Pine Cove cash cow will cease to exist in 2015, I urge Idyllwild and Fern Valley to watch out. They are coming after you next. Don’t believe that the finances will get better if you throw money at them: They will find new and more ingenious ways to make it disappear without ever improving their services.
I am so saddened by this turn of events. I have always been in favor of local control but when a local agency proves year after year and chief after chief to be unable to fulfill the basic needs of the community, it is time to turn elsewhere.