Thom Wallace, a member of the County Service Area 38 Advisory Committee. Photo by JP Crumrine

The advisory committee for County Service Area 38 (CSA 38), which oversees the Pine Cove area, met Tuesday, Sept. 17 to review its financial balance at the end of FY 2018/19 and to discuss projects to support in the current fiscal year.

However, committee members asked many questions that county representatives present at the meeting couldn’t answer. David Alvarez, development specialist with Riverside County’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), agreed to bring a representative from the county’s finance department to the next CSA 38 meeting in January 2020, to ensure the committee understands how the county manages the CSA funds.

In one case, the revenue account for interest from invested funds indicates a negative amount for July and August. According to Alvarez, the finance department said the negative amounts this year were the result of accrued revenue at the end of FY 2018/19. 

Committee members were unsatisfied with that explanation since they are responsible for funding projects and need to know actual cash balances. Projected revenue and expenditures are developed at the beginning of the fiscal year, but as the year progresses, the committee wants to monitor the actual expenses rather than an accrual balance.

David Alvarez, of the Riverside County Economic Development Administration, works with many County Service Areas (CSA) including CSA 38 in Pine Cove and CSA 36 in Idyllwild.
Photo by JP Crumrine

Several other questions were raised and resulted in more questions rather than satisfying answers.

“Our administrative fee [to the county] is 10% of new revenue annually,” Committee Chair Jerry Holldber, who also serves as the General Manager of Pine Cove Water District (PCWD), stated. “Our requests deserve better analysis and explanation.” Riverside County allocates CSA 38 about $9,500 annually to administer the CSA. This includes managing finances and EDA’s oversight. CSA 38 has approximately a $400,000 cash balance. The current revenue from the property tax is $90,000.

“I take a vested interest in the cash balance,” Alvarez replied. “I’m more than happy to look into it and provide a more detailed analysis.” He then offered to bring a representative from the finance department to the next CSA 38 meeting.

When the committee took up its current business, it approved reimbursing the PCWD for much of the costs associated with the recent open house at Station 23 on Aug. 3. Holldber did not dismiss himself from the discussion but did abstain from voting.  

CSA 38, PCWD and the Pine Cove Property Owners Association shared the costs for the event.

In other business, the committee confirmed its commitment to contribute funds to the work for local fuel breaks, road clearance, and the purchase of 10 fire hydrants. Five will be upgrades of current equipment and five will be installed at various new locations.

The CSA 38 expenses for the three projects will be approximately $130,000.

Free address signs are still available at the Pine Cove Fire Station (Station 23), said Capt. Kathy Garver. The committee did authorize $1,500 to purchase additional supplies. Garver estimated that more than 240 address signs had been prepared and given out in the past two years.

Committee member Marge Muir questioned Garver about the current fuel inspection program and how the public, especially real estate agents, can obtain information about whether a property needs fuel abatement or has passed the inspection.

Garver replied that inspections were being done, but were not yet completed.

This and the new state process and data program will be on the agenda of the January meeting, the committee agreed. Also on that meeting’s agenda will be an update on the recently purchased equipment — masticator and chipper.

The next CSA 38 meeting will be 2 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2020 at the PCWD boardroom.