The budding Idyllwild Fire Protection District Finance Committee held its second meeting Monday. At this session, the committee learned about the IFPD’s payroll process and some pending CAL PERS changes to future firefighter retirement benefits.

At the meeting’s beginning, Chair and Commissioner Nancy Layton introduced Rob Dennis, the department’s bookkeeper and accountant, to the citizen committee members. She is assisting him to develop year-to-date, monthly financial details.

“Bookkeeping for the district can get very complicated,” she explained. Layton has previously served in this position. She then introduced the main topic of the day —the monthly payroll. “Capt. LaMont will give you a bird’s eye detail of the payroll calculation. This is the largest and most complex part of the budget.”

Administrative Capt. Mark LaMont explained step-by-step how payroll checks are issued to staff members — from individual’s time cards, through management review, to Rapid Data for processing and back to the department’s financial consultant for records, La Mont explained the details for the committee members.

Most of the calculations and formulae are part of the Memorandum of Understanding negotiation between the department and the Idyllwild Career Firefighters Association.

Chief Patrick Reitz emphasized that he does review the payroll requests. For example, undocumented overtime requests are returned to staff and supervisors for verification, he stressed.

The meeting also included a brief explanation of future changes in retirement benefits for public safety employees. Current IFPD employees may retire at age 55 and receive 3 percent of their final salary for each year worked at IFPD. For example, a firefighter retiring with 25 years service earns 75 percent of their final year’s salary.

This benefit is changing, according to Reitz. Eligibility would lengthen to age 57 or 60 and the benefit reduced to 2 or 2.5 percent of the final annual salary.

The committee’s next scheduled meeting will be Monday, March 24. As they finished, Layton stressed to the citizen members that “[there’s an] expectation you’re ambassadors of accurate information to the community.”