2014-01-02 / Letters
Green has concerns with first aid contract
A s you may have read in the Dec. 25 News Transcript, the Manalapan Township Committee recently approved an agreement with the Englishtown- Manalapan First Aid Squad (EMFAS) at a meeting on Dec. 11. The agreement calls for the EMFAS to create a not-for-profit corporation to bill residents for first aid services, so that paid emergency medical technicians can respond to calls more consistently.
If you were surprised to read about this major change to Manalapan’s first aid services, it is because a majority of the Township Committee decided that public input on this important issue is not necessary.
For months, as well as on Dec. 11, I questioned my fellow committee members about when we would ask the public for feedback on the contract.
Mayor Susan Cohen and Deputy Mayor Jordan Maskowitz made it very clear they have no interest in what the public thinks when it comes to this agreement. That is probably why the contract was approved at the last meeting of the year at almost 10 p.m. with no public explanation of the resolution.
When the committee makes a decision of this magnitude, there is no question the public should be involved; especially in this case, when the EMFAS hires a well-known attorney who is a close friend of the mayor.
I became so concerned about what was going on with this contract that I contacted the state in November for guidance. Thankfully, the state provided important information that resulted in significant changes. One particular change in the contract prevents the township from being exposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential liability costs. Another change limits the agreement to one year with the recommendation that a long-term contract be competitive and publicly bid.
Needless to say, I never thought I would have to be a “whistleblower” on the Township Committee, but in this case, I had to do what was right for the residents.
Moving forward, if it seems like this arrangement with the EMFAS is a “done deal,” please know that decisions have yet to be made on key issues that involve taxpayer dollars.
For instance, my gravest concern for the future is how the new private company will use taxpayer-funded ambulances. I want taxpayers to be properly reimbursed for ambulances that will be used to start a private company – a company that has the potential to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some of my colleagues on the Township Committee think we should simply hand over these vehicles for $1 per year. Let’s hope that this time around, residents have a real chance to weigh in before the decision is made.