The Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission held its meeting, nearly four hours in duration, Tuesday, Feb. 26. As promised, the commission had its plan to secure a new and higher parcel (unit) fee on the agenda.
However, the discussion of the tax measure was held to the end of the meeting, at which point the commission also deferred any action until its March meeting.
Commissioner Henry Sawicki, chair of the Ad Hoc Tax Measure Committee, said William Berry, a California political consultant, contacted him and advised that the way the commission was approaching the issue would “ensure defeat.”
Berry, who apparently has shepherded many local tax measures to victory, offered to discuss the subject with Sawicki or other commission members.
Sawicki said he would contact Berry and share the discussion with his colleagues at the March meeting, when they will presumably move forward on putting the proposal on a ballot later this year.
The principle reason for the length of the meeting was the honoring and recognizing of various members of the career staff.
“We’re catching up with a lot of information, and I am proud and honored of the accomplishments, which stand before you,” Assistant Fire Chief Mark LaMont said as he brought the career staff forward and described their accomplishments.
In the absence of Fire Chief Patrick Reitz, LaMont announced several promotions and pinned badges on Russel Bray and Nelson Escovar, who have completed their probation periods, and are now firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
Also, current staff who have completed probation for promotions are Capt. James LaMont, engineer paramedic Brett Leseberg, engineer EMT Robert Clark and engineer paramedic Greg Minor.
Regarding the Emergency Medical Service and Advanced Life Support agreement that has been pending between IFPD and Riverside County for many months, LaMont expressed optimism that the county would soon accept the IFPD language.
At a recent meeting, LaMont said Trevor Douville, the county EMS director who accepted the documentation that LaMont presented, admitted that EMS had not seen these papers and would present them to the county counsel to move the agreement forward.
LaMont also reported that a draft of a new dispatch agreement with Riverside County was under review. LaMont and RC Battalion Chief Bill Weiser met and discussed the agreement and possible changes.
The cost of the contract with the county may be increasing, so LaMont also is investigating alternative dispatch centers such as San Bernardino County, North County Joint Powers Authority in San Diego County and the city of Hemet Police Department.
The district recently acquired a new fire engine. Beverly Hills announced the equipment was surplus and IFPD purchased the engine for $6,000.
About another $13,000 to $21,000 will be used to purchase more equipment and supplies for the engine, which will then be certified as a Type 1. Eventually, current engine 622 will be modified to become a water tender, capable of carrying 1,000 gallons, LaMont told the commission.
Both vehicles will qualify to be used on mutual aid assignments, he added.
This fiscal year, mostly since the Cranston Fire, IFPD has received more than $45,000 in donations. The gifts have been used to purchase equipment such as breathing apparatus and the new engine, protective gear for staff, vehicle radios and improvements for the computer system.
The commission reviewed a draft of a new set of fees for reviewing construction plans, water systems and mitigation efforts. These will be posted before the March meeting, when the vote on accepting them will occur, according to President Jerry Buchanan.
Jim LaMont revised the fee schedule and the new fees are based on the estimated time it will take to complete the action, such as reviewing a construction plan, according to his brother, Mark LaMont.
If approved, the fee revenue could increase between 30 and 50 percent. However, the current revenue estimate is about $3,000 so new fees will not dramatically increase total revenues of more than $2 million.