The first six months of Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz’s tenure have been very successful, according to Commission President Jeannine Charles-Stigall. The commission has had several sessions with the chief evaluating his performance since his August swearing-in.
“Obviously, the chief has done an excellent job,” Stigall said. “We’re very pleased with what he’s accomplished. It’s an amazing amount of work in a short time.”
Pursuant to this contract with the district, the chief is eligible for a pay raise after a six-month review.
However, Reitz declined any increase at this time.
“It was discussed. The [commission] and I mutually agreed until pay is possibly restored to the paid staff, I will accept no pay increase and will remain at the level I was hired at until there is repair to the paid staff.”
In February, the fire commission appointed a labor committee composed of Commissioners Jerry Buchanan and Pete Caparelli. They have not had a formal meeting yet.
The path to restoring the partial pay reduction, which the career staff accepted a year ago, may be more difficult in the short term.
The district’s financial statement through February (the fiscal year ends June 30) shows a $175,000 deficit.
IFPD still owes Riverside County $35,000 for the advance of the December property tax revenue. In addition, the district deferred the payment of principal for its February vehicle loan until May, according to Buchanan. A similar agreement was made in 2012.
In May, the district receives its second property tax receipts from the county and the lender was willing to wait for the principal payment if the district paid the interest due. Last month, IFPD sent the lender a $6,700 check for the interest. After May, IFPD will still have four payments due on the loan for the brush truck, which was bought in 2007.
Despite current costs exceeding its revenues through February, the commission is confident that the fiscal year will end well. In response to the question about its financial status, Buchanan wrote, “We expect to finish the year with a balanced budget.”
In other business, the commission authorized the chief to contact Riverside County Registrar of Voters to confirm participation in an election this August. Commission President Stigall’s and Vice President Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly’s terms expire in December.
The commission also approved proposed papers for incorporation of the department’s fire auxiliary.