Dear fellow residents, 

As you may know, Berkeley Heights residents have an important Referendum on the ballot on Tuesday, November 5th. Together with my fellow volunteers, I am asking you to join me in voting YES to the ballot question on the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad. It will keep this critical service going forward at an average cost to residents of less than $2 a year. 

As our name says, our Rescue Squad is entirely run by volunteers – your friends and neighbors. Here in Berkeley Heights, an average of only 15 regular members at the BHVRS provides coverage for a town of more than 13,400 people, including a five-mile stretch of Route 78. Last year, these 15 members responded to more than 800 calls, including medical emergencies, falls, and motor vehicle accidents. These calls come at all hours of the day, and these volunteers answer the call every time. 

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It’s getting harder to retain such dedicated volunteers, however. People are working longer and harder and have less time to help others. As a way of encouraging new volunteers and retaining current ones, the Rescue Squad is asking residents to approve the creation of a LOSAP program for them. 

LOSAP (Length of Service Award Program) offers financial rewards, based upon longevity of service to the community, mainly to emergency services volunteers in communities across the country. This money can be used to offset out-of-pocket expenses such as auto expenses and seasonal clothing. LOSAP can provide significant cost savings to municipalities that would otherwise have to pay salaries and benefits for full-time emergency responders. By voting YES on the ballot question, we will vote to create LOSAP for Rescue Squad members.

Approving LOSAP shows that we value the free service volunteers provide to the community – a service that quite literally saves the lives of many in our community. We can do this at an incredibly small cost to residents. If we vote YES, the estimated cost of the program for the first year (2020), which includes credit for one year of qualifying service, is less than $4 per household. The estimated cost of the program for the second and subsequent years is less than $2 per household. After the first year, paying less than $2 per household will ensure our volunteer Rescue Squad remains a valued part of our community for many years to come. 

This is not a partisan or political issue – every member of our governing body, Democrats and Republicans alike, is voting YES on this ballot question. So are many other community leaders. This is likely to be a low-turnout election, however, so anything can happen – and we can’t afford to have this proposal defeated. 

Please join me in supporting our Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad by voting YES to the ballot question on Tuesday, November 5th. You will find the question towards the bottom of the screen when you enter the voting booth, or towards the bottom of the page if you are casting a Vote-by-Mail ballot. 

Thank you for your support! 

Joe Savino
President BHVRS