Resolution of double payment of health benefits was not announced at the May 14 meeting of the Idyllwild Fire Protection Commission meeting.

However the commission unanimously approved a motion authorizing Commissioner Jerry Buchanan and Fire Chief Patrick Reitz to prepare a request for a proposal soliciting a firm to manage the agency’s financial responsibilities including budget reporting and payroll.

“We need to get CPA help. With our accounting and governmental accounting becoming more complex than normal day-to-day, we need a different type of accounting help,” Buchanan told his colleagues, explaining the purpose of the proposed Request for proposal. “A CPA firm can keep our bookkeeping and then it will be easier to go into audits.”

The estimated cost of the contract is between $1,200 and $1,500 monthly, according to Buchanan, or about $14,000 to $18,000 annually.

They hope to issue the request for proposal within weeks and review responses in June so that a contract can be issued in July. Part of the cost will be offset by ending the current agreement with Nancy Layton, who provides some of these financial reports and accounts payable work.

Although the commission did not have any further news on the effect of the recently discovered health insurance payment problem nor financial reports for April, they did authorize the chief to draft a letter requesting the county advance them a portion of the December 2013 property tax payments.

“The request of funds from Riverside County should be less $400,000,” Buchanan recommended. “The amount should be determined by staff.”

In September 2011, IFPD requested a $450,000 advance of tax revenue and in August 2012, it requested $425,000.

“You don’t have a budget for [fiscal year] 2013-14,” said local real estate broker Marge Muir. “Do you need all that before the county decides on an advance?”

“We have to make projections and go forward with those,” replied Commissioner Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly.

Action and discussion on possible increases to the district’s ambulance fees was postponed until the next meeting, scheduled for May 28. “I don’t have that proposal in my packet,” explained Chief Reitz, “it’s drafted and ready to go. We’ll put it on next agenda.”

Earlier in the meeting, Buchanan recommended to his colleagues that they consider establishing a budget and audit committee, which would review the details of these issues before regular commission meetings. Members of the public would be involved and transparency of financial issues improved, Buchanan urged.

They hope to have a draft of the 2013-14 budget available at the next meeting or the first one in June.

The commission also agreed to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors requesting and recommending that full title for Squad 621 be transferred to IFPD from the county.

This vehicle was purchased through the volunteers when they were associated with Riverside County Fire Station 53 in Garner Valley. When the unit associated with IFPD, the vehicle’s title was not transferred.

“It’s necessary for us to clarify ownership of the vehicle,” explained Chief Reitz.

“We have the pink slip and because we are no longer involved with them, they’re not responsible for it. IFPD should be,” explained Dan Messina, president of the Idyllwild Volunteer Company 621.

Sherry Edwards joins IFPD
Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz has selected Sherry Edwards, to be his administrative assistant. At the May 14 Idyllwild Fire Commission meeting,

On Monday, May 19, he announced Edwards as his choice and she will be starting Tuesday, May 21.She also is very active in the community. She and her husband Bob are involved members of the Mountain Disaster Preparedness group, CERT, Mountain Community Patrol, and the Pine Cove Property Owners Association.

Edwards is replacing Rhonda Andrewson, who has been with the Department nearly three years. She has resigned to run for a Commission seat.