Despite an advance of $300,000 on the current-year property tax revenue, the Idyllwild Fire Department’s expenditures through November still exceed revenues by more than $160,000 for this year.
This is a substantial reason that Fire Chief Patrick Reitz has recommended the fire commission defer tucking any of the September 2013 proceeds from the cell tower lease sale away in any reserve accounts.
Reitz re-affirmed his position, which he first expressed the week before at the Idyllwild Fire Protection District Finance Committee meeting. During the discussion of the purchase of new emergency equipment, he told the commission last week, “I can’t see spending and depleting cash. We still have a cash-flow issue and need to keep as much cash in the bank.” He recommended a financing package for the vehicle transaction.
So in compliance with the chief’s recommendation, the commission put the topic of reserves on its agenda for January.
Revenues should begin to flow into the IFPD coffers in December with the first of several property tax payments, but that payment should withhold some of the advancement made earlier in the year.
Property taxes are about three-quarters of the district’s expected revenues, but their receipt is not uniform over the fiscal year. The first payment is not received until December, which makes the first six months of the fiscal year lean. More payments come in during January, April, May and the final in June.
During the meeting, the commission’s approval of the chief’s proposed goals for the balance of the year indicated the direction they may take.
When hired in 2012, Reitz advocated undertaking a strategic-planning process and this year the commission has included that in its expectations of his accomplishments.
Part of this process will be to formulate another tax measure. When asked how the commission members knew that this was a specific task that they would need, Commissioner Nancy Layton replied, “Because we have had informal discussions about it. And some residents have recommended it.” Obviously, no details of the type of tax nor its level were publicly discussed at last week’s meeting, nor was any indication of the timing of its presentation to the commission revealed.
August 2011 was the last time IFPD proposed raising its special tax levy. Measure G would have doubled the $65 per parcel or unit fee, but Idyllwild voters defeated it overwhelmingly. Two-thirds of voters were needed to approve the request; however, 60 percent of voters opposed the idea, including two current commissioners.
In August of odd-number years, such as 2015, IFPD has an election for either two or three commission seats. This year, the terms of commissioners Jerry Buchanan and Larrry Donahoo expire.
Some other goals include informational technology issues such as equipment and possibly a new and improved website, revising memoranda of understanding