Jeri Sue Haney, BBVA Compass Idyllwild branch manager, spoke to the Idyllwild Fire District Commission about the bank’s promotions which could help raise money for the district and its auxiliaries. Photo by J.P. Crumrine
The Idyllwild Fire Protection District Commission focused mostly on house-cleaning business during its latest session last week.

At the request of Commissioner Jerry Buchanan, the commission added the issue of a standing committee for labor negotiations to the Feb. 12 agenda. For third time, the commission had to establish a committee for negotiations and labor relationships.

At the October meeting, the commission established the committee to address changes to the CalPERS retirement systems and, according to Buchanan, “all labor relations.” With this breadth of responsibility, the committee would have to publish notices of meetings and provide an agenda.

In November, the commission chose to abolish this committee and limit its responsibilities to September state legislation, changing employee contributions to CalPERS and retirement qualifications.

“We should appoint an ad hoc committee to deal with the impacts of CalPERS on retirement and its work should be finished no later than June 2013,” Buchanan said at the November meeting, justifying the switch from meetings open to the public to those that are closed.

This month, the commission reversed course again. “Because the ad hoc committee only covered CalPERS, but there are other personnel items coming up that need to be discussed,” Buchanan told his colleagues. “The committee needs broader perspective including labor practices.”

The change was approved 5-0.

In other business, the commission adopted “IFPD Rules and Regulations,” which were essentially a set of job descriptions, according to Fire Chief Patrick Reitz. “This is not a compete set of policies and procedures.”

The package included codes of conduct for officers and staff.

The job descriptions covered the current staff configuration — career, reserve, volunteer — from fire chief to fire fighter and administrative assistant. Also included were specific assignments such as fire marshal and EMS coordinator. The department’s position classifications were also expanded to include assistant chief and battalion chief, including how to test and hire for these positions, which do not currently exist in the IFPD hierarchy.

Reitz told the commission these were necessary in case the commission wants to expand in the future. Both he and Commission President Jeannine Charles-Stigall affirmed that these additional positions, which were being approved, were not based on any plan or planning effort. However, they also stressed the current budget did not provide for staffing these positions.

While discussing staffing, Reitz announced that Captain Mike Mulhall was planning to retire at the end of next month. Reitz was not sure if the commission planned to advertise the position or hire from within the IFPD ranks.

The good news in the IFPD budget is the continuing growth of its emergency medical revenue. At the end of December, the department had received nearly $180,000. The current year’s budget forecast $290,000 for the year, based on collecting $278,000 in fiscal year 2011-12.

Reitz also reported that only $35,000 of the $425,000 property tax advance remains to be repaid to Riverside County. This will be completed when the May property tax revenue is disbursed.