Through February — or two-thirds — of the current fiscal year, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District budget is in good condition, according to Commissioner Jerry Buchanan, chair of the Finance Committee.
After the first eight months of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, revenues of $1.4 million exceed expenditures by more than $130,000. The May and June property tax receipts are still to be received.
Salaries and benefits are the largest expense. Since July 1, the regular overtime (excluding overtime attributable to mutual aid) of the one battalion chief has been $37,000, 60 percent more than the combined regular overtime for all of the other staff — firefighters, engineers and captains.
During his report, Fire Chief Patrick Reitz reported that engine 621 has needed major repairs again. The estimated cost is $13,000.
Buchanan expects to present the budget for next fiscal year (2017-18) for approval at the June commission meeting and final approval in July.
The highlight of the March meeting was the announcement of three promotions and the pinning ceremony. The new third captain is Adam Rodriquez. Two firefighters — Bob Clark and Jim LaMont were promoted to engineers.
Reitz said these promotions were not based on time-in-grade. “They worked for these promotions, including hours of training and certified testing, not once but twice.” The commission unanimously approved the promotions.
However, another captain’s vacancy will occur in May when Jack Peckham retires, Reitz announced.
The district has been authorized to offer training courses for the National Wildlife Coordinating Group, announced Battalion Chief Mark LaMont. He has taught several of these courses at the Forest Service’s Danny Rhynes Training Center in San Bernardino.
In response to a question from Buchanan, LaMont said local inspections will begin April 15 this year. “We intend to do 100 percent. Last year we got to just about 90 percent,” he added.
In other commission action, the contract with its current auditors, Fedak and Brown of Riverside, was extended for two more years. Also, the contract with Complete Billing and Data Management, the medical billing firm, was modified in response to changes in the Medicare billing process. The government is now requiring electronic billing, which requires using a clearing or processing hub that charges a monthly fee.
The CBD contract fee was increased from 14 percent of billings to 14.5 percent to cover this new expense. Lamont estimated that the increase would generate about another $266 monthly for CBD and the fee is about $250 per month.