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August 30, 2010

Re: I. A-2095 – Revises requirements for emergency medical services delivery
      II.  League’s Mayors Committee update on Unfunded Mandates & Best Practices
                                           
Dear Mayor:

I.          A-2095 – Revises requirements for emergency medical services delivery

The League of Municipalities supports the goals and objectives of A-2095, which would revise the requirements for emergency medical services delivery.   The League, however, is concerned about potential costs to municipalities. 

When discussing EMS, municipalities face a balancing test.  Our challenge is Goals v. Reality.  Having the “best quality of EMS” no matter where in New Jersey you live or work is a goal set by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.  The challenge is how to make that goal work within the budget structure we face in municipalities across New Jersey.  While municipalities want the “best quality of EMS” available there is a realization that there are budget parameters to meet. 

The level of service that could potentially be achieved by A-2095 must be balanced with the financial impact that comes with the revised requirements. 

We support the professionalism and standard that A-2095 is looking to achieve.  But we are extremely concerned that some of these standards will make it difficult for volunteer squads to continue to operate and force municipalities to part-paid or paid coverage.  As an example, A-2095 would require 2 EMTs on each ambulance.  As a general rule, volunteer squads have 1 driver and 1 EMT.  We appreciate the five year period for volunteer squads to train their drivers as EMTs.  However, we are concerned that there may be limited funds available from the State Training Fund and this will be an additional expense to the volunteer squad when funding is limited.

During these difficult financial times, everyone is feeling the crunch.  Municipal revenues are down, donations are down, and expenses are increasing.  We are grateful that A-2095 establishes a non-lapsing, revolving “Emergency Medical Services Training Fund”.  We appreciate that the fund will be used for EMT basic level training, recertification requirements for EMT’s and paramedics, interest free loans for initial paramedic training and recruitment and retention of EMTs and paramedics to meet the needs of the community.  The fund must be a stable funding source that is not subject to budget shifting.

While we appreciate the desire to create a standard for delivery of EMS we must recognize that one size does not fit all.  New Jersey is a diverse state from small rural communities to large urban communities who are serviced by a myriad of EMS from solely volunteer squads to hybrids of volunteer and paid to paid squads.

If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Jon Moran at jmoran@njslom.com or (609) 695-3481, ext 121 or Lori Buckelew at lbuckelew@njslom.com or (609) 695-3481 ext 112.

II.        League’s Mayors Committee update on Unfunded Mandates & Best Practices

Last week Mayor John Bencivengo of Hamilton Township (Mercer) and Mayor Anthony Persichilli of Pennington Borough, co-chairs of the League of Municipalities’ Mayor’s Mandates Relief Committee were joined by Marianne Smith, Manager of Hardyston Township, and Richard Krawczun, Manager of Lawrence Township, Mercer County, to present testimony on unfunded State mandates. 

The presentation was made to the Assembly Committee chaired by Assemblyman (and former West Orange Mayor) John McKeon, who was directed by Speaker Sheila Oliver to lead the Assembly’s effort to address the unfunded mandates issue.

Building on information originally compiled by numerous Mayors and Hardyston Administrator Marianne Smith, we had provided the Lieutenant Governor’s Red Tape Review Group with a comprehensive list of unfunded mandates. Some of the major mandates and cost drivers from that list that were presented in Trenton last week included Stormwater Management mandates, binding interest arbitration reform, civil service reform and COAH requirements. Ms. Smith and Mr. Krawczun provided details on how these and other State mandates impose increased burdens on property taxpayers all around the State.

As a reminder, if you have not already done so, please consider passing the draft resolution the League prepared and distributed in our July 14 Dear Mayor letter.  Our goal is for all municipalities in the State to pass a resolution consistent with the intent of this resolution, which urges the Legislature to promptly act on the “toolkit” reforms.    The resolution is available in Word or PDF format at the League’s toolkit information page: http://www.njslom.org/2011FY-Budget/toolbox-news.html

If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Mike Cerra at mcerra@njslom.com or (609)695-3481, ext 120.

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

P.S. – Do not forget to review our August 27 Dear Mayor Letter on the toolkit checklist

 

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