Current and future financial issues were the main topics of last week’s County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) Advisory Committee meeting.
Among the topics discussed were the future of the parcel fee now that CSA 38 residents do not have to fund the ambulance contract with the Idyllwild Fire Protection District, the current boundary of CSA 38 and its effect on tax revenue, and the current 2016 budget status.
The parcel fee of $60.90 was initially approved in August 2004 vote as $50 with an escalation formula. Of the 284 votes cast, 76 percent (213) voted yes to impose the parcel fee for “extended service of voluntary firefighters and enhanced ambulance service.”
In 2004, the cost of the contract for ambulance service from IFPD was $76,446 and grew to $128,858 for the year July 2014 through June 2015, a 68 percent increase.
When Riverside County adopted a new contract with American Medical Response, the county ambulance service provider, it stipulated that the Mountain Plateau (exclusive of Idyllwild) should receive this service. Thus, beginning July 1, CSA 38 residents no longer have to pay collectively for the ambulance service. Individuals continue to be charged for transports to hospitals.
Consequently, Bill Brown, has asked the Advisory Committee to consider the future of this fee. Is it needed or can it be eliminated?
Last week, a subcommittee composed of members Marge Muir and Lou Padula was created to consider what future needs might be served by the CSA. For example, fire abatement, which is fire protection, might be a need under some circumstances.
“Do you want to stay with services that people of Pine Cove know or do you want to branch out? For example, would snow removal be a choice?” Brown asked the Committee.
The subcommittee is expected to report back with possible options in January and the future of the fee and its level may go to the CSA 38 voters in November 2016, Brown suggested.
The original boundaries of CSA 38 and adjustments made since then affecting this district and IFPD were also discussed again. Committee Chair Jerry Holldber provided several maps, which he argued supported the belief that properties north of Highway 243 around Foster Lake are still part of CSA 38.
Marge Muir, committee vice chair and real estate agent, said that there are several properties in that neighborhood, which seem to be taxed in both jurisdictions.
Brown agreed that with the various maps of CSA 38, he is willing to ask Riverside County’s Local Area FCO to investigate the legal status of these parcels.
While he doubted that the parcel fee could be assessed since these owners did not vote on imposition in 2004, he did agree that the share of the county’s ad valorum tax should have been credited to CSA 38’s coffers.
On June 30, the end of fiscal 2014-15 the cash balance in the CSA 38 account was $577,858. In the absence of the ambulance contract payment, this will grow during 2015-16.