Riverside County supervisors today approved a proposal to increase administrative and support charges paid by most local cities for fire services.
Without comment, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the cost allocation plan that contains higher total expenses for 20 cities and the county in the current fiscal year. The costs include outlays to maintain support staff who oversee payroll and purchase equipment, as well as outlays for dispatch services, fleet repairs, the hazardous materials unit and the reserve firefighter program.
Cities are billed directly for fire protection services and for some additional expenses, including electricity to power fire stations and keep them in working order. However, the leftover costs are spread among municipalities and the county.
The county contracts with the California Department of Forestry for fire protection services, and most of the incorporated cities within the county, in turn, contract with the county.
According to the new cost allocation plan, total shared administrative and support costs are expected to come to $36.5 million in 2012-13. That's a 12 percent jump from the $32.5 million in 2011-12.
The county will continue to pay the largest sum -- $16.8 million, up from $14.8 million the year before -- under the plan. Its share includes costs incurred servicing the city of Jurupa Valley, which has not been able to meet its obligations because of state budget cuts.
The five cities with the highest cost burdens are:
-- Moreno Valley, $2.79 million, up 12 percent;
-- Palm Desert, $1.92 million, up 6 percent;
-- Temecula, $1.77 million, up 5 percent;
-- Indio, $1.76 million, up 6 percent; and
-- Menifee, $1.53 million, up 9 percent.
According to county fire department documents, the city of Beaumont's costs are going down 3 percent, and the Rubidoux Community Services District's costs are falling by 10 percent.
The cost allocation plan is the product of a committee composed of staff from Cal Fire, the county, the cities of Indian Wells, Moreno Valley, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Temecula, along with representatives from Rubidoux.
The plan will be retroactive to July 1.
This fiscal year represents the first time since 2007-08 that total pooled costs have risen, according to documents. Actual costs will be recalculated in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year.