The Idyllwild Fire Protection District Commission adopted a $1.6 million budget for 2012-13, which begins July 1. The overall budget is about $92,000 less than the current budget.

However, actual expenditures for 2011-12 will be about $100,000 less than the approved budget, according to IFPD. Interim Fire Chief Mike Sherman said there are no reserves remaining in 2011-12. The only funds carrying over to next year will be the cash balance on June 30.

While the department has about $380,000 in its checking account, monthly expenses will deplete that balance. IFPD will have to rely on ambulance collections and some tax revenue until the next major property tax receipts appear in December.

Although the property tax and special assessment revenue are projected to remain stable, the district does expect ambulance income to decline $48,000 to $287,000 next year. Also mutual aid reimbursement funds drop $30,000.

Another revenue component is very uncertain at this time. IFPD has assumed the current contract with Riverside County to provide emergency ambulance service to Pine Cove would be renewed and continue to provide the district with about $100,000.

This amount could change and substantially affect the revenue column. Sherman said the figure was “a place holder until we know whether the contract is extended.”

IFPD has requested, at minimum, a $24,000 increase if County Service Area 38 would accept a new multi-year contract. If CSA 38 does not want to extend the contract, IFPD might lose the $100,000 in annual revenue. (See CSA 38 story on page 1.)

The budget includes a 5.8 percent (nearly $38,000 total) reduction in the salary account for the career firefighters. Overall the payroll and benefits account drops nearly $100,000 or 7.6 percent.

Other significant reductions include $12,000 less for radio and equipment repair, although this is somewhat offset with a $6,000 increase for vehicle repair and the mechanic accounts.

No funding for future capital projects, such as a new ambulance, is included in the proposed budget.

When asked about the proposal to refinance the loan and lease agreements for the department’s new vehicles and equipment, Sherman replied, at the June 12 meeting, that the new loan was unlikely. Later in the week, he said he had just received a very positive phone call about the request and now was optimistic the refinancing will be approved, which will provide some one-year saving to the district’s costs.

The preliminary budget was adopted unanimously (4-0), Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly was absent. A final budget must be adopted before Oct. 1.

Commission President Jeannine Charles-Stigall said recruitment of the new fire chief is underway. The district has received five applications and will likely conduct interviews soon. If possible, she hopes the commission can make a decision at its June 26 meeting.

Sherman said he’s planning on June 28 as his last day, unless the commission needs additional time through July. Commissioner Jerry Buchanan recommended the next board meeting include an item to extend Sherman’s contract.

In other business, the board adopted a dozen new policies, primarily governing board action, such as quorums, votes and vacancies. The contract with the San Bernardino accounting firm of Rogers Anderson, Malody and Scott was extended for two more years, through fiscal year 2013.

The board also approved a one-year contract with Nancy Layton to provide bookkeeping and accounting services each month.