Negative balances for CalPERS and retiree healthcare

At its Nov. 28 meeting, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s commission heard Chris Brown, partner in Fedak and Brown of Riverside, present its audit of IFPD’s fiscal year 2016-17.

“We have reported an unmodified, clean opinion,” he was pleased to announce to the commission. “That is the best we can do.” The audit also found no “material weaknesses within the district’s internal controls.”

The district’s net position, while still negative, improved nearly $200,000 at the end of the fiscal year. Liabilities, primarily future CalPERS and other post-employment benefits (healthcare), create the negative balance of $1.6 million.

However, the auditors stressed, “This deficit does not mean that the district does not have resources available to pay its bills next year. Rather, it is the result of having long-term commitments, mostly the pension liability of $2.6 million, that are greater than currently available resources.”

During fiscal year 2016-17, revenue exceeded IFPD’s costs by about $67,000. This was attributable to greater revenue from the mutual aid assignments and several grants. Overall, actual revenue increased 19 percent from the prior fiscal year.

Following the audit presentation, Finance Committee Chair and Commissioner Jerry Buchanan and Brown, along with financial consultant Rob Dennis, discussed what could be done in the future to receive the finished audit earlier. They agreed to set a goal of late September or early October for the completion of the 2017-18 audit.

After four months of this fiscal year, expenditures are about $250,000 greater than revenue. This deficit is because the county does not forward any property tax revenue to special districts until December. IFPD has received an advance of $400,000 to bridge its cash flow until the property tax revenue begins to arrive.

Battalion Chief Mark LaMont also noted that half the annual insurance costs have already be remitted and mutual-aid overtime has been paid, although reimbursement is still to be received. Consequently, expenses early in the fiscal year cannot necessarily be projected as continuing through the year.

The board also reviewed and approved several policies, such as employee status and records, as well as board procedures, its code of ethics and campaign contributions.

The county reviewed the district’s code of ethics and recommended some changes, which will be reviewed in January.

Before adjourning, the board reviewed its agreement with Fire Chief Patrick Reitz. Commissioners modified it to complete future evaluation in early July to coincide with the fiscal year. He also received a compensation increase consistent with the memorandum of understanding the district has with the Idyllwild Career Firefighters Association.

The board also canceled its scheduled Dec. 26 meeting and will re-convene on Jan. 23.