The Station 23 (Pine Cove) new Type 6 fie engine is being prepared for duty.
Photo courtesy Becky Smith, Pine Cove Water District

The Advisory Committee for County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) began to review the fiscal year 2017-18 budget and received status reports on several current year equipment purchases at last week’s meeting.

The tentative budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is anticipated to drop by more than 50 percent. The current-year budget, including the new engine, is $680,000 and the 2017-18 projection is $300,000.

The committee is not strictly tightening its belt. This year, the committee, through the Riverside County Fire Department, purchased a new Type 6 engine for Station 23 (Pine Cove). Its cost was nearly $250,000, thus this expense will not carry forward.

Riverside County Deputy Chief Greg Everhart attended the meeting and reported that the new vehicle was in Indio being outfitted for service and would soon be assigned to the Pine Cove station. It is likely to be designated Medic Patrol 23.

The county has been impressed with these Type 6 engines, according to Everhart, and has ordered five more engines.

The CSA 38 revenue also is decreasing this year and into the future. The committee recommended that the county stop collecting the special parcel fee for ambulance service. This was approved in 2004. Beginning in July 2016, American Medical Response, instead of Idyllwild Fire, began providing ambulance service to CSA 38 residents.

Just as other unincorporated areas of Riverside County, which are served by AMR through the master county ambulance contract, Pine Cove will no longer have to make a community payment for ambulance service; consequently, the need for the special parcel fee was avoided.

Ambulance fee collections approached $95,000 annually. The other revenue source, which is about $60,000 from a long-standing property tax, the county shares with CSA 38.

Committee member Marge Muir requested a financial report before approving the new budget. She wanted to be sure what the carryover balance would be at the end of this year before committing too much of CSA’s funds for next year.

“The money is going pretty fast. We should be a little bit frugal buying huge equipment,” Muir advised. “We don’t have much money and don’t replenish it quickly.”

A few of the major projects being requested for 2017-18 include $75,000 for the environmental review for the fuelbreak work, new extrication equipment for the new engine and capital improvements ($100,000) at Station 23, such as a shade cover for the fuel tank and equipment.

Chair Jerry Holldber, who agreed with Muir, asked Everhart if the fire department could discuss the priorities of each request at the June meeting.