Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly (left) presents a carved plaque to former interim Idyllwild Fire Chief Mike Sherman, while his wife Betty looks on. Schelly has presented her with the commission’s “thank yous” earlier. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

The Idyllwild Fire Commission discussed its budget for fiscal year 2012-13, which began July 1, and approved a new contract with the Idyllwild Career Fire Association.


The commission plans a public hearing and approval of the proposed budget at its Aug. 28 meeting.

The total budget equals about $1,663,700 and balances revenue and expenditures. The largest revenue increase, about $45,000, is from the new ambulance contract with the county. IFPD is projecting only a $7,000 increase from property tax receipts from all sources.

Salary expenses are estimated to be $11,000 below the current year and CalPERS payments will decline nearly $30,000 for a total reduction of about $40,000 for all payroll.

Offsetting these cuts were increases for items such as $25,000 for mobile data computers, another $20,000 for possible contingencies and a 20 percent increase in utilities.

Chief Patrick Reitz said the district has had no response from Riverside County regarding its August request for a $425,000 advance, until December, of its property tax revenue.

After a closed session, the commission approved its new contract with ICFA. The contract continues the seven percent cut to basepay, but other special pay incentives such as holiday, longevity, paramedic license and cost of living increases were untouched.

For example, the cost of living increase for 2011-12 was 3.1 percent. And regardless of the change in the indices, two percent was established as the minimum annual increase.

The contract also formally establishes a fourth captain’s position, Administrative Captaincy for Mark Lamont. Thus IFPD has a chief, four captains and five engineers and firefighters. Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly objected to the inclusion of this section and abstained from voting for the contract. The other four commissioners voted to accept the contract.

In other business, the commission officially approved a resolution revising ambulance fees. As part of the discussion, Chief Reitz was asked about what would be the threshold for imposing the $144 dry run fee. Commissioner Schelly suggested a significant level of service should be provided, “and not just applying a band aid or taking blood pressure.”

In response, Reitz explained that when supplies which have to be restocked are used, then a cost to maintain the department’s inventory would be necessary. He stressed that the fee is for the replenishment of supplies and not simply the cost of the run or visit.

The application of the nonresident fee for Zones II and III met opposition from Marge Muir, Pine Cove resident and member of County Service Area 38 Advisory Committee. Since Pine Cove residents provide IFPD with about $100,000 annually and the essential wholeness of the Hill, treating Pine Cove residents differently than Idyllwild for the cost of ambulance service was unfair and an affront to Muir.

The ambulance fee for Idyllwild residents will be $1,089.17. Pine Cove residents and other people would be charged $1,380.17, an additional $291.

Former Interim Chief Mike Sherman, who was attending to participate in the closed session, stated that this approval was a simple formality since both the commission and the county board of supervisors had approved the new rates when they adopted the new contract provisions.

The commission also re-affirmed its resolution to hold two meetings per month, on the second and fourth Tuesdays, then agreed to schedule the review of additional policy procedures for its next meeting on Aug. 28.