In a follow-up on financial questions from its Jan. 10 meeting, the advisory committee to County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) had a long and thorough meeting with staff from Riverside County’s Economic Development Agency to discuss the current year budget, and current and prospective expenditures.

At the end of December, the cash balance for CSA 38 was about $463,000. The purchase of the patrol truck for Riverside County Fire Department’s Station 23 (Pine Cove) was competed with last year’s funds.

Since ending the special parcel fee for emergency-ambulance service, CSA 38’s annual revenue source is a portion of the county property tax. For this year, the estimate is $63,000. As the committee approves expenditures for projects benefiting the community, the cash balance will decline.

Approved projects and equipment that will be completed or purchased this fiscal year, which ends June 30, include a masticator, the shade cover for the fuel area shared by the station and Pine Cove Water District, and address signs.

After a presentation from Riverside County Fire Department Mountain Battalion Chief Rob Fish, the committee also approved two more equipment purchases — extrication equipment and rope.

At the January meeting, the status of the current-year budget was not available and some confusion on which projects were funded ensued.

“We would like to know what is included,” said committee member Marge Muir. And Michael Franklin, principal development specialist for EDA’s Community and Cultural Services Division, assured her, “We’re not making decisions that the committee has not approved.”

Purchase of a masticator for use within the community is awaiting specifications from RCFD Division Chief Bill Weiser, according to David Alvarez, also with CCSD. He expects this purchase to be approved before the end of the fiscal year.

The shade cover for the jointly shared fuel tanks costs $54,000 and CSA 38 will reimburse PCWD for its costs to complete this project.

For address signs in Pine Cove, the committee has allocated another $1,000, which should provide materials for another 100 properties, said RCFD Capt. Katherine Garver.

The new equipment includes a lightweight and portable battery-operated extrication package for Patrol 23. Fish recommended it for situations where a car might be over the side of the highway. He also recommended replacing the current extrication equipment on Engine 23, which is 25 years old. Also, because of its age, it has difficulty cutting the metal in new cars, he added.

He also recommended purchasing new “over the side gear and rescue rope. This equipment in the station has also aged beyond its expected life. The county fire department is working on new standards to apply to this equipment for all the stations,” he added.

Today, the metal is lighter but folded several times, which makes cutting more difficult.

“I and Chief Weiser believe in the need for this equipment for rescue on the mountain or over the side of the road,” he told the committee.

The committee approved these requests unanimously.

However, Fish did ask the committee to consider continuing its support of new fire hydrants in Pine Cove, especially in the less-developed areas.

“The availability of water helps stop fire spread. Your hydrant system is a very valuable firefighting tool,” he said.

While the majority of the committee agreed to provide $17,000 for five more hydrants, Muir, who supports the availability of the hydrants, felt the water district should pay for these costs or, at least, evaluate its funding before CSA 38 monies are used.

The committee also discussed with Franklin how the cost estimate for the proposed deck on Station 23 had gotten so high. The committee dropped this project in at its Jan. 31 meeting because the new estimate for a 600-square-foot deck exceeded $100,000.

“It is a flaw in the county system for internal construction,” he explained. “We give the project management an initial estimate and they design, plan and prepared the project. They give a cost and [building things] is not something that CSAs normally do.”

Before ending, the committee discussed concerns that some properties in the Foster Lake area, which had been transferred out of the Idyllwild Fire Protection District in the 1980s as part of an adjustment of boundaries between IFPD and CSA 38, were still being assessed an IFPD parcel fee.

Franklin said he could contact the Local Area Formation Commission, but it really is the responsibility of the property owner to address their taxes with the assessor.