IFPD commission adopts final 2016-17 budget: New software delays financial reports

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At the Tuesday, Sept. 27, Idyllwild Fire Protection District meeting, the commissioners dealt with several budget and financial issues. While they approved the final fiscal year 2016-17 budget, the commission will have to wait until next month to get the first financial reports for the year.

The projected budget is $2.03 million, which is about $7,000 less than projected revenue and about $170,000 more than the 2015-16 budget.

The growth in revenues is largely from two sources — the county’s property taxes and reimbursement from participation in fighting wildfires outside the district.

The budget does not include any more revenue from either enactment of Measure W on the Nov. 8 ballot to increase the unit (or parcel) fee or the partnership with San Jacinto City to operate a joint powers agency.

Salaries and employee benefits, attributed to Cal- PERS retirement payments and health benefits, will increase expenses to about $2.03 million.

Two drivers of this growth are the recently approved agreement with the firefighters association, which provides a 2.3-percent salary increase, and the funding of three captain positions as well as a battalion chief.

Fire Chief Patrick Reitz reported that revenue from the ambulance trips has increased in the first two quarters of 2016-17 compared to a year ago.

IFPD purchased new accounting software during the early summer and its financial consultant, Rob Dennis, is still trying to get current-year data into the system. According to Reitz, Dennis will have up-to-date financial reports for the commission’s October meeting.

“I had a fair amount of discussion with Mr. Dennis for the reports available for today’s meeting,” stated Commissioner and Treasurer Nancy Layton. “For today, we’ll use reports from the old software. The new software has some technical problems and we’re a month behind.”

In other business, the commission deferred re-appointing Calvin Gogerty to its finance committee until it reviews the policy adopted at its March 2016 meeting. But he will assume the chairmanship of the committee, which calls for a citizen chair.

Layton reported that she is actively recruiting two more citizen members for the committee. Commissioner Jeannine Charles-Stigall said the committee was willing to move its meetings to the evening if that would attract more interest, especially for people working during the day.

Commissioner Rhonda Andrewson announced the public meetings planned for Wednesdays, Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, to present and explain Measure W to IFPD constituents. (See accompanying story.) Layton was optimistic about the measure’s prospects based on her conversations with the public, while distributing information for the meetings.

Reitz attended Hospitalers Order of St. Lazarus Ceremony dinner and accepted the donation for the department’s Volunteer Company.

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