Residents will vote on pension for volunteers

Staff Writer

Residents will vote on
pension for volunteers
Staff Writer

JACKSON — Voters will be asked in a November referendum whether the township should establish a Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) for volunteers on the Jackson Township First Aid Squad.

Backers of LOSAP, which has been established in some neighboring towns, believe this type of program would help the first aid squad retain existing volunteers and provide an incentive to recruit new ones.

The township’s annual contribution to each active volunteer squad member would be $1,150 for each year of active service beginning in 2005. There will be no contributions for prior years of service. However, there will be periodic increases to the annual contribution based on the consumer price index factor. The cost to taxpayers would be about $45,000 a year, according to information provided by the township.

Under the program, volunteers must earn 100 points over the course of one year to be eligible for program awards. Qualified volunteers include those actively serving as senior, active exempt and driver. The lowest number of points would be earned for duty crew response and the highest for all other categories of service.

Duty crew response is rewarded with one point per duty crew, for a maximum of 65 points and a minimum of 35. The 100 points would have to include a minimum of 35 points for duty crew response.

LOSAP establishes other means by which qualifying points may be earned.

All members of the first aid squad would become eligible to enroll in LOSAP upon the performance of emergency services rendered as a volunteer.

Members who have earned the minimum number of points for performing volunteer services over a 12-month period would begin receiving annual contributions under the plan. However, members of the squad who are also members of a volunteer fire department could not receive more than the annual maximum benefit amount.

Those who also serve as paid employees could not credit their work toward LOSAP points unless it is performed on a voluntary basis.

If a participant who is not yet fully vested does not provide volunteer services without interruption over the course of an entire year, he or she would be required to reapply as a new participant when beginning service anew. Those who leave and were fully vested prior to leaving would still retain credit for prior years of service. Any funds not vested before termination of service would revert to the township, not the volunteer.

A plan administrator would determine eligibility for receipt of funding for all plan participants. The LOSAP plan would be established as a separate line item in the Township Committee’s an-nual municipal budget.