Last week was an opportunity for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District officials to review their current-year budget. During the first six months of 2014-15, IFPD’s expenditures exceeded its revenues by nearly $285,000.
But thanks to a windfall of about $50,000 this year, the commission projected a $30,000 net income by June 30. The additional expected revenue is the result of federal legislation that retroactively is reimbursing emergency service agencies for transports over the past few years. Fire Chief Patrick Reitz said Idyllwild has already received a check for $9,500. Over the next several years, he estimates total repayment approaching $100,000.
While Reitz advised the commission that ambulance revenue will incur a seasonal decline, through December it has been well ahead of projections.
Most of the December tax receipt payment was used to repay Riverside County for its advance of IFPD’s property taxes and the final $50,000 was withheld from the January payment. This advance is not fully recovered.
The Finance Committee recommended no changes to the largest portion of the budget, which is staff salaries and benefits. Through December, that total is slightly more than 50 percent of the full-year estimate.
The major upward revision was $10,000 added to the legal expense account, where nearly $19,000 of the budgeted $25,000 has been spent. “… I don’t think that’s enough,” Commissioner Nancy Layton told her colleagues.
Overall, she summarized the budget “… in pretty good shape moving forward.”
The commission did not discuss what effect it will have when the current contract with Riverside County for ambulance service to Pine Cove and beyond expires on July 1.
This fiscal year, IFPD will receive $128,900 for service to Pine Cove and another $50,000 for service to Zone 3. When the department stops providing service to these areas beginning July 1, the number of transports will decline and emergency medical revenue also will fall.
However, Reitz said he “is working to meet with American Medical Response and county Emergency Medical Services to discuss the new county contract.”
In other business, the commission abolished its Labor Relations and Negotiations Committee, whose meetings were open to the public, and established a Negotiations Committee, which will be private, to re-negotiate the agreement that expires June 30 with career firefighters. The new committee will be composed of commissioners Larry Donahoo and President Jerry Buchanan, while Layton will serve as alternate.
It also unanimously abolished the ad hoc committees for vehicles and equipment, and planning and goals. “We’re not quite ready to start the Planning Committee; later down the road,” Layton said in anticipation that a strategic planning effort may be initiated later this calendar year.
Following Chris Davis’s resignation from the Finance Committee, Buchanan appointed alternate Calvin Gogerty to replace Davis on the committee. He then asked FC Chair Layton to recommend a candidate as alternate for the February meeting.
“We will invite applications from the community for the alternate position,” Layton said in an email. No deadline or form have been specified yet.
Reitz also announced that Fire Engineer Greg Minor had received recognition from the county Emergency Service Agency for his action helping a patient suffering a coronary event last fall.