Idyllwild Fire joins fire district association

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 County provides property-tax advance

With only three commission members present last week, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District Commission reviewed financial data for the first month of the fiscal year and discussed joining the Fire Districts Association of California.

In July, the beginning of fiscal year 2017-18, expenses were about $35,000 greater than revenue. However, reserves on June 30, the end of fiscal year 2016-17, were more than $500,000.

At its July 11 meeting, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved IFPD’s request for a $400,000 advance of property-tax revenue until the first tax payment is received in December.

These funds will help IFPD through the traditional summer period of low revenue and will be repaid during the current fiscal year from property-tax revenue. The county and IFPD have made and repaid the advance for several years.

The July revenue came from ambulance-service collections and repayment of IFPD’s costs for helping other agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire, fighting fires in their jurisdictions.

Eighty-five percent of costs were salary and benefits for staff. Of the remainder, the two largest were costs for the contract to collect the payments for the ambulance service, and audit and accounting fees.

The charges for emergency medical services were about $94,000 in July, nearly $35,000 less than a year ago. But overdue accounts receivables have declined since IFPD has been using more electronic billing and payment procedures, Chief Patrick Reitz told the commission.

Later, Reitz recommended that the district join the Fire Districts Association of California. Although IFPD is a member of the California Special District Association, Reitz has found that FDAC has information and news specifically relevant to fire districts.

“They push issues of importance to fire districts, and it’s a level of communication that we don’t currently have,” Reitz said. While there are not many fire districts in California, his conversation with several other fire chiefs in Northern California demonstrated the value of joining.

Annual membership is $550 and the board unanimously approved the action.

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