Riverside County advanced Idyllwild Fire Protection District (IFPD) $450,000 on its December and January property tax receipts, but otherwise there was no discussion of the district’s current or future financial condition.
The commission had no financial statement to review (as of Monday, Nov. 14, it was still not available). However, Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly did present three options for reducing the District’s budget, but the commission tabled any budget action until next month.
The first option, which he suggested last spring, was an across-the-board 10-percent cut, a $168,000 reduction to IFPD’s 2011-12 budget. The other two options targeted specific items such as uniforms, administrative costs, overtime and others. Both proposals reduced the budget $153,103.
The first of the two proposals included a 4.5 percent salary cut, which provided $45,900 of the total reduction. The second proposal included a 9-percent salary reduction, totaling $86,900.
Schelly said he offered the proposals because he assumed the county funds would help the district bridge its finances until May when the next big property tax revenue will arrive. More importantly, it would allow the district to restore the $125,000 certificate of deposit, which it cashed in September. The certificate was originally funded for personnel benefits.
In addition, Fire Chief Norm Walker announced that 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone will give the department $6,000 to equip its Zoll heart monitors with Bluetooth (wireless) transmission capability.
He also discussed Assembly Bill 678, which will increase the state’s reimbursement for transportation of Medi-Cal patients. Not only will this help IFPD going forward, but Walker thought the bill language would be retroactive to 2009. However, he was unsure what percent of IFPD’s 260 average annual transports are Medi-Cal enrollees.
In other business, the commission was going to make a decision about the future of the paid-call firefighters, but Commissioner-elect Larry Donahoo urged them to defer the decision. He provided a cursory analysis of the costs for paid-call firefighters and reserve firefighters and raised questions about the loss of budget resources for the paid-call contingent.
“It seems to me that the paid-call firefighters, volunteers and reserves can be utilized to support this district if the board and the chief want to make it work,” he told the commission. “I suggest this issue be postponed for the new board and such a time that it can be comprehensively studied for the benefit of the community.”
In another budget-related issue, Walker told the commission that firefighter Greg Minor was serving as a paramedic, but Walker has not given him a raise because of the lack of funds in the budget. He affirmed that Minor was willing to do this.
A discussion of the commission’s role and responsibility for overseeing the district’s management was curtailed when Commissioner Schelly objected to the use of a general state code provision rather than use of the Health and Safety codes which govern and regulate special fire districts.
The commission, tabled other action items, except for the selection of former Commissioner Ben Killingsworth’s replacement. (Click here to see accompanying story.)