Rhonda Andrewson. Photo by J.P Crumrine

Idyllwild Fire Commissioner Rhonda Andrewson was elected president of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission for 2017. Her colleagues unanimously elevated Andrewson to the commission presidency at the Jan. 24 meeting.

Other officers were also elected unanimously. Commissioner Larry Donahoo was chosen vice president, Jeanine Charles-Stigall will be secretary and former President Jerry Buchanan will be treasurer for 2017.

The commission is seeking a fifth commissioner to fill the seat vacated when Nancy Layton resigned at the end of December.

Applications and letters of interest must be submitted to the district by Feb. 17. A special meeting to interview and select the new commissioner is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. Currently, IFPD already has one applicant; Lee Lanfried, has expressed interest in joining the commission.

In financial business, the commission heard a presentation from Chris Brown, a partner in IFPD’s auditor, Fedak and Brown. He discussed its audit of the IFPD 2015-16 fiscal year.

The firm’s conclusion was very positive and Brown reported, the opinion of financial statements was “… unmodified and ‘clean.’”

The results showed a $17,000 deficit for the fiscal year, but that is misleading, according to both Brown and Fire Chief Patrick Reitz. They pointed out that the audit incorporates accrued financial data and is not simply a cash-based budget. For example, salaries and the ambulance revenue are accrued, which is consistent with auditing standards, but not representative of the cash basis.

As do most California public agencies, IFPD has pension and healthcare for retirees’ liabilities. Brown was very positive about IFPD’s status compared to many of his other clients. The pension plan is funded at 78 percent, which he said is very good and not a danger point.

In other financial business, Battalion Chief Mark LaMont presented the 2016-17 mid-year budget review. He also covered many other issues, such as training and mutual aid.

At the end of December, expenses were about $140,000 greater than revenue. For this point, LaMont felt the budget was in good shape. For example, another property tax-revenue payment would be received in January and the final payments in April and May. Ambulance revenue was running significantly ahead of prior-year collections, too.

“The current budget is in-line with staff projections for both revenues and expenditures,” wrote Reitz after the meeting.

Several financial commitments were approved at the meeting. Contracts with a new emergency medical coordinator, Christy Slattery, and an emergency physician medical director, Dr. Zeke Foster, were approved.   

Slattery is a former IFPD volunteer. Foster appears to have negotiated a substantial increase over the previous departmental physician, Dr. Gerardo Salcedo.

Following up on previous action, the commission approved a new contract for legal representation with Varner and Brandt of Riverside. The lead attorney on the district’s work remains Brad Neufeld who has changed firms, but was the previous IFPD legal counsel.

No new community members have been appointed to the Finance Committee. Buchanan, as new treasurer, said he would review the policies for both the committee and the role of the treasurer.

Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz accepts two $65 checks from Larry Donahoo, Idyllwild Fire Protection District commissioner. Donahoo and a friend supported Measure W, which would have increased the parcel fee $65, but failed. Nevertheless, they both felt the department needed the $65.
Photo by JP Crumrine
Jerry Buchanan (right), president of Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s Board of Dommissioners, gives Nancy Layton, former commissioner who resigned at the end of 2016, a plaque for her service. Rick Foster (left) accompanied Layton, his spouse, to the meeting.
Photo by JP Crumrine