Although Idyllwild Fire officials continue to say their financial situation is improving and better than 12 months ago, Chief Pat Reitz acknowledged that without access to the December property tax revenue the department will be unable to pay salaries in October.
In August, the department petitioned the county to advance the department $425,000 from its expected December property tax revenue. Reitz told the fire commission that he expects the request to be on the Sept. 25 board of supervisor’s agenda and has promises the funds will be available within days after that.
At its Sept. 11 meeting, Reitz said the current bank balance was less than $15,000.
Commissioner Jerry Buchanan said the commission has no current plans to re-open the contract with the Idyllwild Career Firefighters Association, even though the recently enacted state pension reform legislation addresses the subject of current employee’s paying their full share of pension costs.
“We want to wait until the issues settle down. It’s a long slow process which the commission will discuss, but there are no plans to talk about it now,” he said.
Capt. Jim Reyes, president of the association asked about the commission’s plans for raising additional revenue in order to restore the February pay cut.
The commissioners did not respond to the part about new revenues, but Chief Reitz said “Yes, I’m pursuing new avenues for revenue.”
Although he didn’t discuss it, he said one would involve a contract and may be on the agenda for the next commission meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Reyes also inquired about the status of refinancing the loans for the engines, Reitz responded, “Refinancing is a dead issue.” The new loan would have been for a longer period, but at a higher rate.
Earlier in the meeting, the commission discussed the formats for future agenda and minutes of the meetings.