Although its contract accountant could not produce the financial reports for October, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District Finance Committee did review some reports that had data through September, the first quarter of the fiscal year.

Again this month, Committee Chair and Commissioner Nancy Layton expressed disappointment with the presentation of the financial data available.

According to the reports, IFPD spent $145,000 more than the revenue it collected during the first quarter of 2015-16. However, the five months from July through November is the period when its income is the lowest. The first property tax receipts are not realized until December.

This is the reason the agency requested a $350,000 advance from the county during the summer. While that will help, the budget report includes nearly $250,000 in revenue for assisting in fires outside the district. This is what was requested, however, and not the actual cash reimbursement. Consequently the $145,000 deficit underestimates the real financial situation during this quarter.

Reports show the district had nearly $450,000 in cash at the end of September; Layton reported the cash balance last week had dropped to about $215,000. The first property tax receipts arrive in December but much of that amount will repay the tax advance.

Early in 2016, Fire Chief Patrick Reitz said IFPD plans to re-issue a request for a contract for accounting support as well as the possibility of a new contract for an audit later in the year.

Committee member Sue Weisbart recommended that Reitz consider assigning more of the financial processing, such as check preparation work, to his administrative assistant and use the savings from hiring an a certified accountant to hire another administrative person so staff can man the front desk five days a week.

Layton reported that new accounting software had been purchased and she plans to have it installed, transitioning from the current software by Jan. 1.