A Pine Cove meeting created frustration last week when the Riverside County representatives did not have adequate budget details to explain which projects were included the budget for fiscal year 2017-18 and the final expenditures for last year.

Pine Cove’s County Service Area 38 Advisory Committee met Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 10; this was its first session since June.

As an example of the inadequacy, at the June meeting, David Alvarez, of the county’s Economic Development Agency, said the Type 6 engine for Station 23 cost $240,000. However, the final financial report for fiscal year 2016-17 shows the CSA budget was assessed $281,000 for the engine.

Alvarez did not know why that had occurred, nor did he know if the added extraction equipment, which County Fire Division Chief Bill Weiser ordered for the engine, was included in the total.

Weiser was concerned that the county might be billed twice; however, it was determined that the invoice for this equipment was dated in October. Consequently, they agreed that it was unlikely this $10,000 was part of the higher total cost.

Other budget and funding changes were questioned but the specific answers were unavailable. Alvarez agreed to investigate these questions and get answers from his county finance colleagues for the next CSA 38 meeting.

“We need to get what our funds paid for and what is planned to be paid for,” CSA 38 Chair Jerry Holldber told Alvarez. “We need breakdowns so the committee understands.”

Committee members Robert Hewitt and Marge Muir agreed. Hewitt was concerned that the committee would not be able to explain to CSA 38 constituents how their parcel fees were being used.

Muir concurred: “The committee has no idea what the county approved. We’re flying blind.”

Based on the current Riverside County finance reports, the cash balance for CSA 38 has decreased from $720,000 in July 2016 to about $437,000 at the end of November 2017. Purchases of the Type 6 engine and a wood chipper account for most of the decrease in the balance.

The chipper, however, is not yet in use. Weiser said the county needs registration and permits for air quality from the manufacturer before it can be used.

He also said criteria for its use and reimbursement still need to be prepared.

EDA is in the process of purchasing a masticator for CSA 38 this year. And the shade cover for the fuel tanks, which Station 23 and Pine Cove Water District share, has been completed for about $54,000.

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