The Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s (IFPD) budget problems may have just gotten considerably more complicated. Over the past week, Idyllwild residents have received their December 2009 tax bills. Conspicuously absent is IFPD’s $65 per parcel special assessment.
This was not a conscious gift to local residents. Instead, failing to comply with the Riverside County Treasurer’s office deadlines may cost IFPD the full estimated amount of $200,000 this year or perhaps only a portion if the treasurer can correct the bills at some charge.
IFPD’s September agenda included the passage of the resolution approving the 20-year-old assessment (although its value has varied during this period). The action was deferred until the October meeting, last Tues, when the resolution was adopted 3-0.
On Friday, Fire Chief Steve Kunkle confirmed that the special assessment was omitted from the current property tax bill. The resolution and accompanying paperwork were still not ready to send to the county treasurer.
The resolution’s passage on Oct. 13 was still too late for the County to include in the tax bills. Their mailing began on Monday, Oct 12.
In May 2009, Idyllwild Water District held a public hearing and passed a resolution for its standby water fees on undeveloped parcels. Pine Cove Water District transacted the same business in June.
Kunkle did not know if the county would be able to include the assessment in the April bills.
According to Kunkle, in September, he advised the commission to approve the resolution. If a public hearing were necessary, the commission could rescind it at the next meeting, hold the hearing in October and then re-pass the resolution. On Tuesday, the commission passed the assessment resolution without a public hearing.
A $200,000 short fall in this year’s budget would be a serious event and might affect service or staffing levels. Before adjusting the budget, IFPD should determine if the error can be corrected in April and, if so, whether there will be a cost to the district.
If not, the commission has to decide what to do about the remainder of this fiscal year and then how to handle the assessments for next year.
On Monday, I will try to speak to someone at the county treasurer’s office and offer you more insight.