The future of a joint power authority for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District to provide fire and emergency medical services to the city of San Jacinto appears to be changing.

At a regular meeting of the city’s council last week, City Manager Tim Hults was authorized to hire a contractor to evaluate the city’s future options for delivery of fire services. The options to be considered include creating its own fire department, a JPA with large municipal agencies, contract with another agency or continue to contract with the Riverside County. The results are expected in March or April.

One reason Hults recommended that the city assess its fire service options was the anticipated time to resolve the litigation, which the city initiated, to validate the authority of the JPA. (See accompanying story.)

“With the Idyllwild San Jacinto Fire JPA subject to litigation, which could take several years to complete, it is appropriate to explore what options may be available for fire service delivery,” he told the council.

Following approval to hire a consultant, the council authorized Hults to extend the existing contract for county fire service through June 2018. Next year’s costs will be about $3.4 million, about $50,000 more than the current year.

Hults told the council, “Staff reached out to the county fire chief and asked if the county would be willing to extend the current contract for another year. County Fire has not objected to an extension and has provided a quote for services for next fiscal year.”

Later, council members were very complimentary of the Riverside County Fire Department’s work and cooperation.

“We’d be honored to serve you for a year or forever,” county Fire Chief John Hawkins told the council.

No one from IFPD was present at the meeting.