Paramedics funding pact settled

Princeton Packet
24 February 1982

Funding agreement ensures services

After all the bickering and squabbling, the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad and local government — most notably the Princeton Borugh Council — have reached what appears to be a workable solution to the problem of guaranteeing the paid positions for two daytime paramedics.
For months the groups argued back and forth about who has the right to control the purse strings of the squad. Its members wanted to be able to determine how the squad spends its money, most of which is raised through contributions.
But the Borough Council, which, along with the Township Committee, was asked to provide enough funding to pay the salaries of two full-time employees of the squad. And the council did not wish to give away its taxpayers dollars without some knowledge of why the money was truly needed or how it was going to be spent.
Through a process of negotiation the two sides were able to arrive at what appears to be a workable solution — an advisory committee which will have a look at the squad’s budget but which will not have an absolute or final say in how its funds are spent.
The squad agreed to use any excess funds raised through contributions for the salaries or costs of the paramedics.
If fortune smiles this arrangement will prove to be one that works and which will continue to provide the professional rescue service the people of Princeton have come to expect.

Paramedics funding pact settled

by Ron Bartlett
Staff Writer

The funding drama between the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad and local government appears to be over — for now.

After several months of often bitter debate about how the squad’s two daytime paramedic members would be paid, the groups Wednesday forged an agreement to carry them through 1982. and possibly longer if all goes well.

Under the new arrangement, an eight-member Joint Advisory Committee will be formed to “advise the squad on its Financial operations and accounting procedures.“ according to a work draft released at the Wednesday meeting.Also. all excess funds raised by the squad are to be considered for offsetting the paramedic’s costs.

Squad members said they are still interested in negotiating salary and wage packages for the two daytime crew members.

“THIS IS THE basic operating agreement,” said borough Council woman Barbara Hill, who has been involved in the talks with the squad since funding became a sore spot last September. “It has been a useful process for both sides. I think the agreement we have is something both sides can live with, and both sides appreciate the problems the other is having now.”

Mrs. Hill said money for the paramedic program will be provided in the 1982 budgets currently being adopted in the borough and township. The temporary funding for the paramedics would have run out on April 1, although the councilwoman stressed “but that was no dire problem — if we didn’t have an agreement, we would just have allocated more temporary funds.”

Mark Freda, president of the First Aid and Rescue Squad, said paramedic salaries and benefits are still open to question. Local officials would like to see increases match those given to municipal workers, but it is unclear if the paramedics can be placed under the same

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benefit package. Currently, the paramedic salaries are $14,000 and $15,300.

“Obviously, there’s going to have to be more study, and discussion, of the subject of salaries.” Mr. Freda said. He described what is currently offered to the paramedics as below the national average. He said the two workers “would actually be getting less” if the benefit package was not improved, while at the same time the salary increases matched the municipal raises.

“IT’S A HIGH stress job. and I think we’re underpaid.” offered Joseph Derman. the senior paramedic. “If we were on a pay scale like the police department. I think that would be more equitable to what we have now.”

A resolution which recognizes the Advisory Committee to the squad will be prepared by Mrs. Hill. The committee, which was pushed hard for by Borough Council members, will include both municipal administrators and financial advisors from the two Princetons, along with four members of the squad.

The committee will serve as a liaison on financial matters between the squad and the municipalities. As in the past, the budget for the daytime paramedics will be met through municipal contributions based on a ratable basis, with the township providing about two-thirds of the amount.

Also under the agreement, all money raised by the squad in fund drives will be used first to satisfy the demands of the capital and operating budgets. When the squad’s budget year ends on July 31. any funds still available will be set aside. On or about Jan. 1, that money will be placed in a bank account to be used to offset the paramedic costs.

ANY FUNDS which were voluntarily earmarked for specific squad functions will be excluded from the surplus, if still available at the end of the budget year.
For municipal purposes, the paid paramedic program will include salaries, workman’s compensation, health insurance and major medical coverage, a $10,000 life insurance policy, uniforms, and administrative costs, not to exceed
SI 50.

The squad met last Monday to consider Mrs. Hill’s earlier proposal, and hence, this final compromise was reached.

“It’s an undefined relationship that’s getting defined slowly.” said township Committeeman George Adriance.

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