New Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz attended the Fern Valley Water District board meeting to build communication. “I want to make sure we have a great working relationship,” said Reitz, “and to build communication. I’m planning on staying around for quite a while.” The board said they appreciated Reitz’s gesture.

Reitz elaborated that he would provide clear information to the community about the department’s operation and directly confront issues of importance. If there are allegations against the department, he promised to deal openly with them.

Director Robert Krieger suggested questions had been raised about water availability and flow during the Howland Fire, where a large residential home was completely gutted by fire in a Fern Valley neighborhood. “Whatever is coming out of the hydrants is what we’re getting,” said Reitz. “If there are statements about department operations that are combative, such as pumping hydrants dry, we’ll engage those.”

In its review of the 2011-12 budget fourth quarter report, the board noted that a projected net loss of $276,000, based primarily on large capital expenditures, had been reduced by about $28,000. Less had been spent for both operating and capital budgets than had been projected.

General Manager Steve Erler said well production is up over last month and same month last year as reservoirs are being filled. “Streams are holding up,” said Erler.

Erler also sought, and the board approved, plans to move a large granite boulder to the district office and have it laser-blasted to create an office sign, the exact configuration to be determined by staff.

In other business, the board committee of Trischa Clark and Jim Rees, who were asked to review water shortage emergency rates, reported that any increases in those rates fall under the requirement of Proposition 218 to notice all property owners 45 days prior to a public hearing and if a majority of owners object to the increase, it cannot go forward. The public hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 16. Erler said, “Our current water supply is adequate and I anticipate it remaining so for the balance of the summer and fall.