The Idyllwild Fire Protection District believes the Riverside County Fire Department is doubling the cost of its dispatch contract and authorized Fire Chief Patrick Reitz to open negotiations with the county.

In addition, the Fire Commission asked Reitz to redraft a request for proposal to entertain competitive bids from other dispatch entities.

“The change in dispatch service contract escalates to approximately $80,000 annually for our charges. This is about a 100 percent increase over the [initial] agreement from three years ago,” Reitz told the commission.

In 2011, when the county and IFPD signed the cooperative agreement, the first year’s cost was for $49,000. However for 2011 and the two subsequent years, Riverside County Fire Department reduced the bill by $10,000 each year as a credit for use of IFPD’s radio frequency, called support 11. For the final year (2012-13) of the contract, the annual cost, before the credit, amounted to $56,100.

For the last quarter of 2012-13, the actual billed cost was $17,600. The first quarter 2013-14 billing increased to $19,000 and included a $1,700 charge for connectivity, which didn’t appear on the fourth quarter 2012-13 invoice.

Multiplying this for four quarters and assuming the $10,000 credit is eliminated going forward is the basis for Reitz’s estimated cost of $80,000 annually.

Reitz is concerned about these increasing costs because “there has been little change in the district’s call volume.”

He expects the $10,000 credit to be eliminated based on informal communications with RCFD. “The county verbally informed the district earlier this year that it would not be crediting the district the $10,000 for Support 11, as it no longer meets the technological requirements of the county,” Reitz wrote in an email. “The district has not received confirmation of the removal of the credit in writing.”

Besides renegotiating the contract with RCFD, the commission supported Reitz’s recommendation to solicit dispatch bids from other agencies. Other in-county dispatch centers include Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Riverside City, Corona, Hemet, Murrieta, Riverside County Sheriff and American Medical Response, according to Reitz.

“We would not do due diligence to our taxpayers if we didn’t explore less costly options,” Reitz told the board.

When asked if another dispatch service might complicate the emergency medical service to Pine Cove, Reitz agreed.

“That’s my concern as well,” he said. “We may find Riverside County is the best option to provide dispatch service, but it may not be the best value. But we will not sacrifice our public safety over a dollars issue.”

A revised RFP was to be provided to the commission at its Jan. 28 meeting.