Big Bear Lake, CA — The Big Bear Lake Fire Protection District has both some good news and some bad news, both of which were revealed in the last week. The bad news, as the City of Big Bear Lake prepares budgets for fiscal year 2010/2011, is that the Fire Protection District looks to see a significant shortfall in revenue in the coming year, presenting a potential budget gap of $880,000 in what is, per the City’s Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Smith, roughly a $5 million annual operating budget. Per details outlined by Big Bear Lake Fire Chief Rod Ballard on April 14, approximately 85% of the fire department’s revenue comes from property taxes and given a third year of decline in these totals, as well as a 25% downturn in grant funding availability, the Fire Protection District anticipates a deficit from revenue to expenses of $881,480. As Chief Ballard, who joined the department just over a year ago, is out this week, COO Smith tells KBHR, “We are going to be setting up a budget workshop to go over what the options are for their potential budget shortfall.”
In the meantime, the Fire Protection District has good news to celebrate in that, for the third consecutive year, the City of Big Bear Lake has received the Firewise Communities distinction from the Firewise Communities/USA recognition program. Big Bear Lake is one of less than 40 communities within California to receive this honor, which has also been awarded to Big Bear City and Fawnskin. The Firewise designation was earned as a result of efforts to protect people and properties from the dangers of fire in our wildland/urban interface; measures to achieve such include the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, the City’s native brush and shrub ordinance [see our 2008 Archive], curbside chipping programs, the fire-safe native planting guide created with the Sierra Club, and free defensible space workshops offered at the fire department.