Mayor Jeff Parrott called the meeting
to order, and requested the Clerk to call the roll. Upon roll call,
the following members of the governing body were present:
Mayor Parrott, Committee members Sytsema, De Boer.
Also present: Administrator Clerk Jim Doherty.
The following members were absent: None.
Mayor Parrott led the assembly in the Salute to the Flag.
Mayor Parrott stated, “This meeting is being held in compliance
with the provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act, Public Laws
1975, Chapter 231. It has been properly noticed and posted to the
public, and certified by the Clerk."
The governing body gave consideration to the request by the Wantage
Fire Department and First Aid Squad for the creation of a Length
of Service Award Program (LOSAP) in Wantage Township for volunteer
firefighters and First Aid Squad members.
Wantage Fire Chief Marc Blaine offered a presentation, with background
information from last year’s initial discussions on this topic
regarding how LOSAP operates.
Mayor Parrott inquired how transfers of members from one department
to another department are handled, specifically if a volunteer fire
fighter comes to Wantage from another municipality which does not
Fire fighter Joe Konopinski replied that this issue was not specifically
addressed or reviewed to date, but he believed the issue can be
addressed within the point system.
Mayor Parrott inquired under what circumstances a volunteer or his
legal dependents could withdraw the money from the LOSAP system.
Chief Blaine responded that this could happen in the event of death,
disability, or retirement/withdrawal from volunteer services, after
the mandatory vesting period takes place.
Mayor Parrott inquired regarding the issue of the Sussex Fire Department,
and whether they were pursuing this request in Sussex Borough; and
if not, what possible consequences that could have on membership
applications to the Wantage Fire Department.
General discussion revealed the following possibilities:
a) Sussex Fire Department members may resign from the Sussex Fire
Department and make application to join in Wantage Township
b) Sussex Fire Department may disband, which could lead to a hole
in coverage that would need to be filled by the creation of a
third company in Wantage
c) A possible hidden future increase in costs for Wantage taxpayers:
if the referendum on this matter goes forward with the existing
membership rolls being the calculated tax impact, and then the
membership rolls increase dramatically because of the Sussex Boro
factor, the taxpayers of Wantage may be being unintentionally
deceived by the representations being made at this time regarding
d) The option of an interlocal agreement with Sussex Boro for
combined LOSAP coverage for both Wantage and Sussex volunteers,
to address the above-stated concerns in a pro-active manner.
General consensus was reached that members of the Wantage Fire
Department would approach the members of the Sussex Fire Department
on an informal basis, to get an indication regarding their desires
about, and the status of, LOSAP in Sussex Borough.
Mayor Parrott asked what the minimum and maximum contribution
amounts were, under LOSAP.
Chief Blaine offered the response: the minimum contribution is
$100 per person, per plan, per year; the maximum contribution
is $1,150 per person, per plan, per year.
Mr. De Boer suggested that an information newsletter for the general
public would be in order.
General discussion also took place regarding the possibility of
holding a special meeting for a public hearing to answer the public’s
questions about the program.
Mr. De Boer informed the assembly that he would be abstaining
from voting on this matter when the issue comes up for a vote
by the governing body, in consideration of his involvement in
the First Aid Squad for Wantage Township.
Mayor Parrott inquired how the issue of prior service record is
handled once LOSAP is instituted.
Mr. Konopinski and Chief Blaine responded, explaining that prior
service record is partially taken into consideration, but is subject
to proper record keeping to establish that the required prior
service was truly offered and performed.
Chief Blaine once again reminded those present that volunteers
would need to continue in service for at least five years in order
to receive any benefit from the LOSAP system.
Mayor Parrott requested the Fire Department and First Aid Squad
prepare a combined letter, explaining the benefits of the program,
for use in public education on this topic.
At this time, Mayor Parrott opened the meeting to the public.
There being no one present at this time wishing to address the
governing body, Mayor Parrott closed the meeting to the public.
Ms. Diane Snure, 15 Mt. Salem Road, inquired where the “start
up” money would come from.
Mayor Parrott responded that all funds would be derived from the
Ms. Snure requested clarification on the anticipated tax impact
of this program.
Mayor Parrott responded that the impact would be based on a certain
dollar amount of impact per hundred dollars of assessed valuation,
and that the amount of the impact would vary with the amount of
the contribution decided upon. Preliminary tax impact analyses
were suggesting that the program could have an impact of any where
from once cent to 1.5 cents per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.
Ms. Snure asked how mid-year transfers of volunteers from one
town to another would be handled.
Mr. Konopinski responded, explaining that there is a requirement
for an entire year of participation for qualification, so if a
person were to transfer from a town with LOSAP to another town
with LOSAP, the cost burden would most likely be generated on
a pro-rated basis, whereas if a volunteer transfers from a town
without LOSAP to a town with LOSAP, he/she may face ineligibility
until a full year of service is completed.
Chief Blaine presented a preliminary cost analysis report, entitled
“DO THE MATH”, which explains the possible costs that
would be involved if a fully funded, paid fire department were
necessary because of the absence of volunteers, and then compared
this cost to the cost of the LOSAP program.
There being no other items for the consideration of the governing
body at this time, Mr. Sytsema moved to adjourn the meeting. Mr.
De Boer seconded the motion.
Upon roll call,
Ayes: De Boer, Sytsema, Parrott Nays: None Absent: None Abstain:
Mayor Parrott declared this meeting to be adjourned.______________________________
James R. Doherty, Clerk