15 November 1978
Dollar Crunch Facing First Aid Unit Detailed to Town’s 2 Municipalities
Borough and Township governments are “extremely concerned” about the fate of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Borough Council member Richard Woodbridge told the Squad Monday night.
So far, nobody has decided how much money to ask the governing bodies for. Originally. Squad members talked about $12,000 yearly—more or less—for a paramedic. But at Monday night’s meeting of the newly-formed citizens committee concerned with the Squad, a new element was introduced. Squad member Thomas Goldman warned that rescue trucks and ambulances don’t last forever, and said that “mammoth expenditures” would be required to replace old vehicles. By 1984. he said, the Squad’s Harrison Street building would have to be mortgaged.
Only $300 monthly goes into a fund to replace the ambulance. Captain Ed Obert said, and it should be $800 or $1,500. The rescue truck. $40,000 ten years ago. might cost $100.000 today, it was estimated.
“Volunteerism won’t support the Squad any longer.” Mr. Goldman said bluntly.
The Squad is straddling a dilemma: its members want financial help from Borough and Township, (?) want the paid paramedic. But they want to maintain their volunteerism, and the right to go out and raise money.
They have a budget of slightly under $50,000 a year. Mr. Obert told the group. It is raised solely through voluntary contributions solicited in a fund-raising campaign. Squad members have said they’re afraid the public will say “Why contribute?” if Borough and Township are contributing, too.
Daytime staffing now “looks good,” Captain Obert reported. Late this summer, he warned of potential disaster if the Squad were needed for a serious emergency in the daytime, when most members were at work outside Princeton.
There are now three daytime volunteers, although possible classroom conflicts loom since they are either University or Seminary students.
One small financial boost—if the Borough would agree to pay around $140 a year for the direct Squad line into Borough police headquarters. The Township already pays for its line.
“A picayune thing!” exclaimed former Borough Police Chief Peter McCrohan scornfully. “If I’d known about it. we’d have accepted it eight years ago. If you have to. take away an officer’s shoes or uniform, and save money that way, but pay the $140 ”
Kate Litvack, Township Committee representative, reported that it was illegal for the Township to sell gasoline to the Squad since it isn’t a municipal agency. Squad members replied that Montgomery Township, Kingston. Kendall Park and perhaps others give free gas to their rescue squads.
“Is there direct opposition to supporting the Squad, on the part of governments?” asked Mr. Obert, bluntly.
“It just hasn’t come up before,” explained Mr. Woodbridge.
15 November 1978
Towns could aid aid squad;
Officials find budget caps not a factor
by Tom Lederer
Financial assistance for the Princeton First Aid and Rescue squad, which last month appeared highly unlikely, now may not be so remote after all.
Strapped for funds and manpower, the squad recently requested assistance from Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, and as a result a committee was formed to make recommendations to the two governing bodies. Those recommendations are expected to be formally adopted Dec. 5 at that committee’s meeting.
The words of extreme doubt that were voiced by the two elected official members of the committee last month were considerably softened and changed to words of considerable hope at the advisory panel’s session Monday night.
At an earlier meeting both Township Committee member Kate Litvack and Borough Council member Richard Woodbridge cited the state-imposed five percent limit on budget increases as making any substantial aid to the rescue squad very unlikely.
THIS TIME, however, they found out that aid to rescue squads, up to $25,000 from each municipality, could be made outside of the budget caps, removing the major argument against municipal aid.
In addition the squad itself reported programs in straightening out some of its problems.
• A severe shortage of daytime personnel has been alleviated, reported Captain Ed Obert, with the addition of two university students and one seminary student.
• The squad will also soon be receiving lessons on how to recruit volunteers, thanks to a professional recruiter who read of the squad’s problems and offered to donate his services.
• Mr. Woodbridge announced that former tax collector Pat Patterson has agreed to advise the squad on straightening out its finances.
“THE MESSAGE I am taking is that if we want to continue with the squad we need municipal funds,” concluded Mrs. Litvack at one point during the two-hour session Monday.
Both Mrs Litvack and Mr. Wood- bridge said they were not aware of any direct opposition to municipal support of the squad.
“I have never’ heard a negative statement about the squad,” Mr. Woodbridge said. ‘‘Actually I have heard nothing one way or another. The
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question has never come up.” He added, however, that he had heard “misgivings from some individuals in the administration.”
“When times are tight people will look very closely at new expenditures,” Mrs. Litvack warned, however, “It is not fair to say we are against or in favor of aid.”
Squad members in the audience voiced impatience with discussions on what they called “nickel and dime” aid to the squad, such as free gasoline and rent-free hotlines to both police departments.
THE SQUAD faces substantial expenditures to replace aging equipment, maintained member Tom Golden, who is working on the squad’s finances. He said it is only able to accumulate about 3.5 percent of their value each year in a replacement fund.
The squad’s troubles began when its service area shrank as other municipalities developed their own rescue squads. As that occurred the squad’s area of support in donations also shrank. Most other squads in the area receive an average of $10,000 to $15,000 in aid from their municipalities, Mr. Obert said.
Squad members have maintained that Princeton Borough’s assumption of a $140 early phone bill, which the squad now pays, would be a sign of the town’s willingness to support the squad. The phone is a direct “hot line” to the squad. The township pays for its phone, but the borough so far has refused to do so, despite squad requests.
“I DON’T LIKE to hear the borough getting rapped.” said former borough police chief Peter McCrohan, who was in the audience at the squad house. “But I sure would have accepted paying for that phone, even if I would have to take away a couple of the men’s shoes to pay for it.”
“Other towns give their squads the money to buy a new ambulance and here we can’t get a $140 phone line,” said former squad member and township policeman Bob Cromwell.
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When Mrs. Litvack explained that it was a cost item that had to be examined, Squad member David Cromwell shot back, “You mean like bike paths nobody uses or loop buses nobody rides..”
“It’s not fair to say we’re against support,” Mrs. Litvack said. “When times are tight, you look closely at new things.”
Katharine H. Bretnall