County Service Area 38 is shut down until summer, according to 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone’s office.

Riverside County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency is developing a new contract for delivering emergency medical and ambulance services. While the analysis and review is proceeding this spring, Stone has suspended the CSA 38 Advisory Committee meetings until at least July, according to Stone’s Chief of Staff Verne Lauritzen.

“This is to allow Riverside County, its staff, and interested stakeholders to fully participate in the formal evaluation process established by the Board of Supervisors,” Riverside County’s CSA Operations Manager Bill Brown wrote in an email to CSA 38 advisory committee members. However, he added that minutes from CSA 38 meetings would not be included in the official county evaluation process.

The county’s consultant, the Abaris Group of Martinez, Calif., held public meetings this week to seek views of the various parties affected by these emergency services in the county.

“One of our goals for the next countywide ambulance contract is to bring CSA 38, Pine Cove, and the surrounding affected area (not Idyllwild proper) into the county’s official ambulance network and therefore eliminate the need for ambulance contracts with other service providers (i.e., IFPD),” Brown told CSA 38 members. “If this goal is accomplished the CSA 38 Special Tax will no longer be needed and that burden on local taxpayers will be reduced and/or eliminated.”

However, Idyllwild Fire Protection District believes that it is part of this review and has been and will continue to participate as a stakeholder and EMS provider, among other responsibilities, according to Fire Chief Patrick Reitz.

“It is unknown at this time what recommendations may come about as a result of this review, which may affect the countywide ambulance contract, the issue of ambulance zones, contracting and subcontracting for ambulance services,” Reitz wrote in an email. “While individual agencies as well as individuals themselves may have their own goals and opinions as to where EMS in Riverside County should go, it’s premature to assert the outcomes of the process that is just beginning to take place.”

When asked if the suspension of CSA 38 is similar to the supervisor’s decision to defer filling the CSA 36 (Idyllwild) vacancies, Lauritzen said no. “They [CSA 38] went quarterly a while back and the suspension will be until we have a good handle about the EMS needs.”

He also stressed the difficulty his office has had recruiting and finding applicants for the CSA 36 vacancies.

CSA 36 and 38 financial balances
In other CSA news, county officials have reported that the current CSA 38 budget balance is nearly $675,000. However, that includes revenue receipts through January, but only $450 of expenditures this year. While the county has made one payment totaling slightly more than $41,000 to Idyllwild Fire Protection District for its ambulance services to Pine Cove, these funds have not yet been deducted from CSA 38’s budget.

The CSA 36 cash balance is about $215,000. For the current fiscal year (starting July 1, 2012), revenues have been nearly $140,000 and expenditures through December were $161,000.