The County Service Area 38 Advisory Committee was advised last week to begin thinking about its parcel tax for the ambulance contract with Riverside County.

Since the committee’s January meeting, the county Board of Supervisors has agreed to renegotiate its ambulance contract with American Medical Response. As part of the negotiations, 3rd District Supervisor Jeff Stone has asked the county’s Emergency Medical Services Agency to find a way to include Pine Cove within the prospective contract with AMR.

“The stated intent of Supervisor Jeff Stone is for Pine Cove and surrounding communities to be included in the countywide contract,” said Bill Brown, operations manager for the county’s CSAs. “If so, you’ll be treated like all other areas of county … So, you should begin some discussion of winding down the special tax.”

If the new contract with AMR provides service to CSA 38, Brown told the committee that there would no longer be a need for the special tax for the enhanced ambulance services approved in an August 2004 special vote.

The current contracts between the county and AMR, and the county and the Idyllwild Fire Protection District (which provides the ambulance service to Pine Cove and the area north of Pine Cove) both expire June 30, 2015.

The current contract between the county’s EMSA and IFPD costs CSA 38 $124,000 this fiscal year and will increase to $129,000 for fiscal 2014-15. This is about $40,000 more annually than the special tax generates.

The tax could be totally eliminated or reduced. Brown advised the CSA 38 Advisory Committee that it might assess whether other public safety needs or programs would be useful with the Pine Cove residents.

In the spring of 2015, the county will begin preparation for its property tax collections in December 2015. Thus, next March would be the appropriate time to decide the tax’s future, Brown said.

The committee now plans to discuss the tax’s disposition during its future meetings leading to perhaps a decision next spring.

Marge Muir and Robert Hewitt are the Budget Committee to recommend a 2014-15 spending plan for inclusion in the county’s 2014-15 budget. The Budget Committee will work with Cal Fire Mountain Battalion Chief Sean Dakin and send the proposal to the full committee after its submission.

The Advisory Committee did agree to Dakin’s request for $15,000 this fiscal year to re-model portions of Station 23 to accommodate increased staffing. This work would include additional lockers and changes to the kitchen and storage rooms. (See accompanying story.)