NUTLEY, NJ - In July, the Township of Nutley Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved an ordinance to dissolve the Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad (NVERS).
Introduced by Public Safety Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, all five commissioner approved the introduction of the ordinance. Commissioners Approve Introduction of Ordinance To Dissolve the Nutley Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad. Concerns by the BOC over the operation and functioning of NVERS and alleged irregularities in management and failure to comply with the existing ordinance is what led to this ordinance.
As questions about the goings-on at NVERS continue to spread through the community, we decided to take a step back, ask some questions, and dig a little deeper to get closer to the truth.
Rumor: NVERS reported an overall loss of $230,000 on the 2019 tax return.
Fact: NVERS took delivery of a new ambulance at the end of 2019.The ambulance cost $227,000.
TAPinto Nutley reported the arrival of the new ambulance as a part of our New Year coverage. Nutley Rescue Squad Takes Delivery of New Ambulance to Serve the Community The announcement of the "new delivery" was originally scheduled to publish on New Year's Day, that announcement was changed to Jan 2, 2020. We instead reported, with breaking news alerts, the arrival of New Year babies at Clara Maass Medical Center and Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center. Let's face facts, new babies are more usually more exciting than new ambulances.
The cost of the new ambulance is now called #48? $227,000. That price tag is in line with what other squads in the region paid for their new vehicles.
Rumor: NVERS bought three Chevy Tahoe Trucks. Those things start at $49,000 and can run as high as $74,000 each.
Fact: NVERS did purchase three Chevy Tahoe SUVs but not for the prices that are being thrown around on social media.
NVERS purchased three SUVs as a part of the squad's COVID-19 response. The vehicles in question were all used vehicles, and purchased for about $8,500 each.
After an ambulance goes on a call, even if it's just to take a child to hospital to be checked out after falling off a bike, the vehicle must be taken out of service for a complete disinfection. Should a call come into NVERS while that ambulance is being cleaned, the EMTs can respond to the scene in the Tahoe to administer immediate first aid, and if an ambulance is needed, that call can be made while triage is going on.
After the recent First Responders parade, we saw the Tahoe in action. It was the first vehicle to respond to call on Franklin Ave. near the ShopRite. An ambulance arrived on the scene later to transport the patient. Heat Takes A Toll on Residents, Nutley Rescue Squad Responds to Call on Franklin Ave.
NVERS has reported that because of the use of the Tahoes, the squad did not have to make use of mutual aid from other communities to respond to calls during the height of the pandemic.
Rumor: NVERS is run by people who are not a part of the Nutley.
Fact: The NVERS Executive Board includes many well known people in the community including business leaders, a principal, and a recipient of the Jaycees Distinguished Citizen award. The board consists of:
President and CEO: Jonathan Arredondo
Vice President: Boris Dropic
Treasurer: Joseph DeSomma
Secretary: Jeff Weiss
Trustee: Ryan Brogan
Board of Trustees:
Dr. Marianne Alessio
Rumor: NVERS is a township (government) entity, and therefore the township, under the direction of the Public Safety Commissioner, can decide to dissolve it.
Fact: Ordinance No. 60 adopted on Feb. 17, 1953 states the director of Public Safety Department controls the operations and can adopt an ordinance to dissolve the squad at any time. “The refusal of the management to abide by that ordinance is what’s resulting in this action tonight. I hope that they will reconsider their position on transparency,” Township Attorney Alan Genitempo stated during the July 21 BOC meeting.
We dug a little deeper, and discovered that NVERS is actually registered as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The status of the organization changed in 1978.
In an interview given to NorthJersey.com, parent of the Nutley Sun, "Genitempo said the township helped the squad become a 501(c) 3 in 1978 to generate "revenue that takes the pressure off the taxpayers." The squad began billing patients' insurance to draw income and allow hiring. Town moves to dissolve Nutley Volunteer & Emergency Rescue Squad
A 501(c)3 is required to file reports with federal authorities on a regular basis. Anomalies most likely would have been discovered by the Feds.
Should the Township of Nutley be able to dissolve NVERS, is there anything to prevent them from dissolving Nutley Family Service Bureau, the Friends of the Library, or even the Nutley Rotary?
Rumor: Geltrude and Company was removed from the auditing process of the squad by the Board of Commissioners.
Fact: The Board of Commissioners awarded Geltrude and Company a contract to audit the squad at the July 9 BOC meeting. Nutley Board of Commissioners Award $15,000 Contract to Geltrude & Co. To Audit Nutley Rescue Squad
In an interview with TAPinto Nutley, Daniel Geltrude explained that he was hired to look at some questionable transactions. It is believed that the transactions were related to the $230,000 (ambulance) and purchase of the Tahoes. He emphasized that it was not an audit.
Geltrude further explained that after the kerfuffle during public comment at the July 9 meeting, and subsequent backlash on social media, he called Township of Nutley Attorney Alan Genitempo on the morning of July 10 to report that he was not interested in the work. During the interview, Geltrude made it clear that he understood that his firm was replaced by NVERS because a more cost-effective solution was found. Geltrude stated that he had no hard feelings whatsoever.
Since Geltrude was originally hired by resolution, the BOC had to introduce a resolution to undo the original one. It appears that that action by the BOC left some residents confused. Geltrude made it clear, he was the one who removed himself from the process on July 10.
Rumor: Should the township take over the squad, it will not cost the taxpayers a dime
Fact: On the surface, this statement appears true, but that depends on how you interpret "taxpayer."
Residents of Nutley are not expected to see an increase in their tax bill should the township take over the squad. What's not know is how many of the local, loyal volunteers will remain with the squad. Will additional staff need to be hired in order to provide the level of service Nutley deserves. The equipment, including ambulances, belong to the non-profit. Should the township force them to vacate the Chestnut St. headquarters, how much will Nutley pay to place the ambulances and medical equipment?
More important to many residents is the other component in the "cost" equation with NVERS' non-profit service to residents.
Senior and local income residents are not dunned for payment. NVERS accepts whatever Medicare or Medicaid pays and often writes off the rest of the bill. A "ride" to Emergency Room can easily cost $800 to $1000 dollars, a prohibitive sum for many residents. NVERS is able to write off a portion of the bill for these residents because of fundraising and donations, it is strongly believed that a private third party will not afford Nutley residents the same kindness.
TAPinto Nutley witnessed one situation in 2019 in which a resident, whose heart stopped, was saved by NVERS. CPR and other methods were used to restart the patient's heart.
After a recovery period, the patient and their spouse dropped by the squad to thank the EMTs in person, and present a check for $5,000. It is situations like that, and remembering NVERS in one's Will, that keep the charitable side of NVERS going.
As this remains an ongoing issue in the township, readers should expect more coverage of this subject.
Since 2016, TAPintoNutley.net has been the only locally owned news organization serving the Township of Nutley, and is a member of the New Jersey Press Association. The Nutley Board of Commissioners first named TAPintoNutley.net the township's 'Official Electronic News Source' in 2019.