Idyllwild Fire Firefighter Nelson Escovar, Assistant Fire Chief Mark LaMont, Engineer Brett Leseberg and Austin Owen stand next to one of the Department’s four ambulances.
Photo by JP Crumrine

Financial issues dominated the last meeting of fiscal year 2017-18 for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s commission last week.

The commission unanimously (3-0) approved a 5-percent increase in the ambulance-service rates. Commissioners Larry Donahoo and Jerry Buchanan were absent.

The new Advanced Life Support cost will be $1,628, an increase of about $80. In the first 11 months of 2017-18 (through May 31), IFPD made 343 medical transports, 62 percent of the medical emergency calls to which it responded.

The commission also approved a resolution opposing the “Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2018,” which was expected to be a proposition on the November 2018 ballot, but was withdrawn on June 29.

The authors of the measure intended “… to require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature at the state level, and two-thirds of voters at the local level, for increases in state and local taxes, no matter how they are labeled nor how or by whom they are proposed.” The sponsors were largely soda manufacturers.

Also, the measure would void any taxes or fees approved after Jan. 1, 2018, and before the enactment of this measure.

Last August, after the state Supreme Court decided California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, many felt this would allow citizen initiatives proposing tax or fee increases to be approved with only a simple majority of votes as opposed to Proposition 218’s requirement that government tax and fee increases require two-thirds of the voters’ approval.

The commission opposed this measure because its two recent parcel-increase measures — “G” in 2010 and “W” in 2016 — failed to obtain the two-thirds threshold. Since the Upland case, IFPD is interested in a third measure and might encourage a citizen initiative, which the commission believes could obtain a majority vote of approval.

The California Special District Association solicited special districts to approve a resolution opposing the measure and IFPD will send this resolution to CSDA.

The commission also received the financial reports for the current fiscal year. Through May 31, IFPD’s revenues for 2017-18 were $150,000 greater than its expenses. This positive balance will likely drop some after June’s totals are included.

In June, ambulance receipts are likely to be the greatest source of revenue. Almost all of the property-tax, parcel-fees and mutual-aid reimbursement have been received.

Also, besides the likely monthly expenses of about $175,000, the district will incur costs for the team currently on the Pawnee Fire in Lake County. Reimbursement for these costs will be received next fiscal year.

Nevertheless, staff is optimistic that a positive net balance will still be achieved for fiscal year 2017-18.

In other business, Commissioner Ralph Hoetger was elected secretary.

IFPD 2018 Ambulance service rates

ALS Base $1,628

Non-resident $330

BLS base $955

Interfacility transport $1,430

Mileage 39 cents per mile

Oxygen $180

Night $168

Dry run $186