At last week’s Idyllwild Fire Protection District meeting, Commission President Jerry Buchanan established a committee, composed of Vice President Larry Donahoo, Fire Chief Patrick Reitz and himself, to draft a response to the most recent Riverside County Grand Jury Report.

The commission spent two closed sessions (including July 9) reviewing employee matters addressed in the report, Buchanan said, and is prepared to draft a response. The grand jury report urged IFPD to charter an independent investigation into the allegations and sworn testimony included in the report, but Buchanan said the commission had not done that.

Although no outside witnesses have appeared before the commission, Buchanan indicated full confidence in the chief.

Just before the establishment of the committee, the commission ratified the promotion of Administrative Captain Mark LaMont to full shift captain. Although LaMont’s alleged unethical and illegal actions were the main subject of the grand jury report, the commission unanimously endorsed him as Reitz’s selection for the next captain. He replaces former Capt. Mike Mulhall, who retired in March 2013.

“This is clearly within the purview of the chief promoting Capt. LaMont to shift captain. It removes the ‘administrative’ title. The chief handled the promotion, which was due for a long time,” Buchanan said.

In other business, commissioner and treasurer Nancy Layton reported that the district finished fiscal 2013-14 with a surplus of about $57,000. While the exact amount won’t be known for a month, this is the first year in several that the district has produced a surplus.

The major reason for the increase is growth in the district’s property tax revenue. The actual amount was about $30,000, or 3 percent, greater than the original estimate of $1,079,993.

In addition, the district still has the cash (about $220,000) from the sale of the telecommunications lease last fall.

The Finance Committee is still working on a final 2014-15 budget, Layton said. She expects a final budget to be presented to the commission at the August meeting and to be approved in September.

The revenue estimates do include the district’s special assessment, she confirmed. If there are no further changes to projected revenue, the district will collect $1,127,962 this fiscal year, a 1.6 percent increase. However, the assessor’s office said the value of properties in Idyllwild has increased 3.9 percent from last year, so a small windfall may materialize next spring.

The Idyllwild Volunteer Fire Company selected the new board for the 2014-15 year, Vice President Paul Riggi announced. Other officers are Ruth Wick, president, Rhonda Andrewson, secretary, Jon Engel, treasurer, and Tammy Vogel, activities chair.