County to Give Idyllwild Fire District Cash Advance

Riverside County supervisors are expected to approve today a $400,000 loan to the cash-strapped Idyllwild Fire Protection District to cover personnel and other expenses that cannot be deferred until the state distributes the district's share of property tax revenue.

``This is something we've done for the past few years because of the
district's budget situation,'' Idyllwild Fire Protection District Chief Patrick
Reitz told City News Service. ``The amount we ask for has dropped every year as
the economy slowly rebounds.''

According to county Executive Office documents, the $400,000 is a little less than 85 percent of what the district is expecting to receive when the state disburses property tax receipts in January. Under the terms of the contract between the county and district, the county will have claim on the district's tax receipts until the loan is repaid in full.

The interest rate on the IOU -- based on the county treasurer's pooled
funds rate -- will be less than half a percent, accruing monthly.

Reitz, who was named chief earlier this year, said cash advances from
the county are a result of ``deficit spending that ate away at reserves'' under
his predecessors.

The Idyllwild Fire Protection District employs 10 full-time firefighters, including the chief, as well as a part-time assistant, according to Reitz. There is also an active reserve firefighter program in place.

Personnel provide paramedic services in Idyllwild and the immediate
surrounding area, including the community of Pine Cove. The 5-square-mile
district is not under Cal Fire's jurisdiction.

A fire protection district crew joined U.S. Forest Service and county
firefighters in battling the 27,500-acre Mountain Fire, which was projected to
be fully contained today. Idyllwild was threatened by the monster blaze, but
flames never reached the city limits.

Reitz told CNS that two water tender crews from the Idyllwild Fire
Protection District were on the fire lines for a week.

`We have yet to see what is coming back to us in the way of
reimbursement for overtime and other costs,'' the chief said. ``We're trying to
determine whether we can get some disaster relief funding.'' 

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