In response to the Mountain Democrat article dated Aug. 30, “$82K: County loans to fire dist.” What does this mean exactly? As of Aug. 30, El Dorado County Fire Protection District had a negative cash balance of $82,380. As of Sept. 3, this figure increased to approximately $334,000. By the end of December, this amount will be $1,000,000-plus. The fire district will pay less than 1 percent back to the county in interest.
Pursuant to the Teeter Plan, the county auditor can advance property taxes not yet collected to local agencies. Basically it is like taking a payroll advance for the next three months.
In the article, Chief Hardy is quoted as saying, “We start our fiscal year in July but don’t get our property tax money until December,” noting that the district doesn’t have the reserves to get them through the five dry months between July and December.
“But we are doing fine,” said Hardy, who added that he expects the district to come in under budget this year just as they did last year. This a multi-million dollar operation and they are jumping up and down for joy because they ended the fiscal year in the black with $5,337.72. That amount will easily be swallowed up with increases in health benefits and other expenses.
In October of 2012, the county auditor sent a letter to the district advising them they had submitted a budget for the 12-13 FY with a deficit of $658,311. It was also pointed out to the district in that letter that they had not taken into account the deficit from the prior 11-12 FY of $754,076. Added together this comes to $1,512,387. The district began to drain every reserve account they had, including money set aside for retiree health benefits to balance these budgets. We must not forget the $600,000-plus that had to be paid to the JPA for loaned labor.
El Dorado County Fire is broke; it has nothing to fall back on. It will only take one or two unexpected expenses to push this agency into bankruptcy. But remember, the chief says they are doing fine. I think I will let the public be the judge.