30 December 1981
Squad says no go to budget veto
by Ron Bartlett
Princeton’s First Aid and Rescue Squad members say they will welcome input from the municipalities on their annual budget, but when it comes to allowing the township or borough to have a final say on how money is used, their answer is simple — no go.
Last week, the squad membership met to discuss the two-week old proposal made by local officials, which would establish a joint financial advisory committee to review and grant final approval to squad expenditures.
“The membership was very apprehensive about the Borough Council having final say over the budget control.” Said outgoing squad Captain Edwin Obert. “We’ve asked them to be interested, and we want them to have a say, because then they’ll see that we are using the money in a frugal way.
“THE TOWNSHIP has been super supportive, but the borough has given us the attitude that they don’t trust us and now we don’t trust them anymore,” the captain continued, “Part of that is this month-to-month arrangement. The committee is going to be a solution, but it has to be built on trust.”
A worry of squad members, Mr Obert said, is that the municipalities would seek to use $20,000 set aside for the purchase of a new ambulance to pay the
two daytime paramedics’ salaries, the key factor in the squad’s currently turbulent financial picture.
The borough and township have funded the the paramedic program with as much as $30,000 of the towns’ funds The municipalities recently allocated more money to keep the paramedics paid until March while a permanent solution to problem is worked out. The recent proposal suggested that all excess funds raised by the squad be used to offset the cost of the paramedics’ salaries, and that the remaining difference would be subsidized by the towns.
Mr. Obert, who will be replaced as captain on Friday by squad member Jack Seeley, said the money being set aside fur the new ambulance, which will be purchased in 1985, is absolutely necessary.
HE SAID THE cost of a new ambulance, which is purchased every five years by the squad, rose from $17,000 in 1975 to about $48,000 in 1980 “for just about the same rig ” The next ambulance may cost between $50,000 and $60,000, he said.
All of the squad’s operating and capital expenses are paid for with funds raised through private sources. If the squad was able to raise true “surplus.” said the captain, it would be glad to use that money to offset other expenses.
See SQUAD, page 16A
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“It kind of looks like the borough wants to say, ‘forget the ambulance in three years, you’ve got to pay the salaries of the paramedics this year,’’’ Mr. Obert remarked.
The captain stressed the idea of a review committee is “acceptable to everyone,” but said recently elected squad president Mark Freda “voiced the whole thing” when he said in an interview last week that the squad had already taken steps to have a CPA review its budget regularly.
WHILE THE accountant is on retainer, Mr. Obert said, he has worked for a number of volunteer groups and “puts in an awful lot of time without charge.”
Mr. Obert said that during the fall of 1979, he had told Borough Council financial assistance would be helpful, but when there was no response, the squad went out and retained the CPA on its own.
Councilman Richard Macgill, who is working on the squad situation with Councilwoman Barbara Hill, said he did not have any response to the squad comments, since the proposal was presented with the understanding that it would be looked at and rediscussed at a Jan. 13 meeting with local officials.