It’s vital that the Idyllwild Fire Finance Committee plan for the long-term.

Effects of losing the Pine Cove ambulance contract — a quarter of a million dollars  — is going to put a dent in an already shaky financial situation at our local fire department.

Legal fees are piling up under three grand jury investigations: $54,000 actual for 2013-14 with a $20,000 budget; and $18,000 for the first six months of 2014-15 under a $25,000 budget. Monday, the committee decided to raise the legal fees budget to $35,000. As Chair Nancy Layton put it, her testimony last week before the grand jury alone is really going to drive up legal costs.

With income decreasing and expenses rising, IFPD will likely experience a serious cash flow problem soon and start eating into its reserves.

It’s no time to talk about buying ambulances. It’s no time to spend precious time going over details of the budget structure. That’s where you end up, not where you start when reviewing the budget mid-year.

Without that cell tower sale of $218,000 sitting on the books, IFPD may barely break even this year. And no one in the committee mentioned that at Monday’s meeting.

Why budget ambulance fees at the full rate when insurers never pay that. IFPD writes off the rest.

The cell tower sale and the ambulance fees distort the true picture of the financial situation.

IFPD, what are you going to do next year without the Pine Cove money? Will you have to lay off paramedics? No one is talking about that. No one is talking about a year from now. No one is talking about five or 10 years from now.

Don’t take IFPD for granted, locals. You need to wake up if you want to keep your fire department.

Becky Clark,