Although the ambulance contract between Riverside County Office of Emergency Services and the Idyllwild Fire Protection District was renewed in June, the subject still surfaces at the County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) Advisory Committee meetings.
During the Nov. 14 session, committee members continued to express frustration over their lack of involvement in the spring negotiations and the negotiations’ results. In particular, member Marge Muir expressed regret that IFPD’s ambulance charge for transporting Pine Cove residents is nearly $300 more than for Idyllwild residents.
Although Idyllwild residents pay a special $65 per parcel fee to the fire district, CSA 38 residents pay a $55 per parcel fee for the ambulance service. This provides the $120,000 that CSA 38 pays for IFPD ambulance service. Nevertheless, irrespective of the parcel fee CSA 38 residents pay, they are treated as nonresidents, just as Mountain Center residents and residents north of Pine Cove are, although these parcels do not pay for ambulance service.
“It doesn’t make sense,” said Muir. “Humber Park is farther than Cedar Glen. And they only bring an ambulance to Pine Cove. For [incidents in] their district, they send a truck and ambulance. It should cost less coming here.” Despite the disappointment, all the committee could do was request that the county provide the quarterly ambulance reports as specified in the contract.
In other financial business, Michael Franklin, CSA project manager for the county’s Economic Development Agency, confirmed that parcels near Foster Lake, which are legally part of CSA 38, had been omitted from the county’s maps of administrative unit boundaries.
Although he said the county was collecting property taxes from those parcels and allocating the proper portion to CSA 38, they were not contributing to the ambulance fee collections.
“They were not included in the first special assessment vote [August 2004] so they can’t be taxed without the opportunity to vote and we won’t be able to collect a back tax if they do vote for the assessment,” Franklin wrote.
Franklin also confirmed in his email that EDA had “budgeted for a new [fire] engine, so once given that direction from Supervisor Stone’s office, we are able to move forward with a purchase.”
Riverside County Mountain Battalion Chief Sean Dakin was at the meeting and confirmed he had discussion with Bill Brown, the county’s CSA operations manager, about the prospective engine purchase, a type 3 with 4-wheel drive.