Franklin moves forward on service program

24 May 2017 | 01:03

The Franklin Borough Council is moving forward with an initiative to implement a Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) for the borough's fire and first aid volunteers that would cost residents less than a dollar per month.
An ordinance to establish the program is expected to come before the Council at the next meeting, and if approved will be placed on the November ballot.
Councilwoman Dawn Fantasia said Franklin's LOSAP would offer qualifying volunteers a maximum annual contribution of $500 from the Borough. Volunteers would have to earn the awards each year by accruing credits in a point system. Fantasia said the details of that system have yet to be determined, and will be hashed out following conversations with fire department and emergency squad members. Generally, though, she indicated points are distributed when members respond to calls, attend training, accrue years of service, and earn certain titles, among other things. Mayor Nicholas Giordano noted both the fire and first aid squads have point tracking systems already in place, which would facilitate an easy transition to the new program.
The total estimated cost of the Franklin LOSAP is $25,000, assuming 50 eligible volunteers qualify in a given year. Fantasia said that figures out to around 91 cents per month for the average Franklin home owner, or just under $11 per year.
“For me, that is a very small price to pay to know that if I have an emergency and I call 911, if I have a situation in my house and there is a fire, that 91 cents will be the best 91 cents I ever spent,” Fantasia commented. “It shows the volunteers that we appreciate them. It's the respect they deserve, and I just simply can't imagine that 91 cents a month is going to cause significant pushback from community.”
Fantasia also noted the cost of the program could be even lower than 91 cents per month if the township is able to work with the budget and bring additional revenues into town.
Fire and first aid squad members present at Tuesday's meeting said a LOSAP would be a “great way to boost membership” amid declining enrollment. First aid squad member Jennifer Henry said her squad currently includes around 10 members who treated more than 130 patients last month. Though six new recruits are currently going through processing, Henry said implementation of a LOSAP would “ help us get more people to come out and have fun.”
The proposed program also received support from the public, who said establishment of a LOSAP was “long overdue” and a “no-brainer.”
Councilman Gilbert Snyder said he believed Franklin would be the fifth municipality in the county to establish a LOSAP if voters consent.
But Fantasia said the council's action isn't the end of the road – the next step will be a public education campaign across social media, print, and word of mouth information channels ahead of the expected November vote.
If approved in November, volunteers would begin earning points in January 2018 and LOSAP payouts would follow at the end of that year.
Renaming a road and highlighting historyThe Council on Tuesday also voted to rename Hospital Road after Sgt. Dennis Premock, who was killed in action May 6, 1968, in Vietnam. The decision was made at the behest of Freeholder and Franklin resident Phil Crabb, who indicated Premock's family will be in town for Memorial Day weekend.
In a separate action, the Council also approved Giordano's appointment of Crabb as Franklin Borough Historian and waved ahead a request to form a Borough Historical Commission. An ordinance for the latter is expected to come before the council at its next meeting.
Crabb encouraged stakeholder participation from the Council, with the aim of highlighting Franklin's historic assets – perhaps with the creation of a historic walking tour – to bring new revenue into town.