NUTLEY, NJ - Geltrude & Company is out, Public Relations firm Mercury LLC of Westfield is in, and accusations continue to fly between the Township of Nutley Public Safety Director and the Nutley Volunteer Emergency and Rescue Squad (NVERS).
Let's put this thing in reverse and back up to the open public meeting of the Nutley Board of Commissioners on Thursday, July 9. That meeting, held in chambers, was open to the public via ZOOM teleconferencing.
One item on the agenda for that meeting, a contract between the Township of Nutley and Geltrude & Company, drew a great deal of attention and was the subject of two public commentsduring the meetng. A proclamation was unanimously approved by all five commissioners to award a professional services contract to Daniel Geltrude to do a forensic audit of the Nutley Volunteer Emergency Rescue Squad (NVERS). The contract is not to exceed the amount of $15,000. Nutley Board of Commissioners Award $15,000 Contract to Geltrude & Co. To Audit Nutley Rescue Squad There was no bidding process for the contract.
According to both the Township of Nutley and NVERS, Geltrude & Co. had provided professional services to the squad in the past. According to the squad, Geltrude was replaced when a more cost-effective option was found.
According to a press release sent to TAPinto Nutley on July 14, "This action was necessitated by certain unusual financial trends reported on the 2019 tax return prepared by a new accountant hired by the executive committee of the NVERS without Commissioner’s knowledge or authority." The press release, Commissioner Alphonse Petracco, The Director of Public Safety of the Nutley Board of Commissioners Statement On Financial Review of Nutley Volunteer Emergency & Rescue Squad was prepared by Mercury LLC of Westfield NJ.
Among the items that raised eyebrows in the public safety department, was "an overall loss of $230,000 on the 2019 tax return." In late 2019, NVERS purchased a new ambulance to replace an old one that was being retired. The ambulance was manufactured by PL Custom in Manasquan NJ. The unit cost $227,000, and is now known as Unit 48. Nutley Rescue Squad Takes Delivery of New Ambulance to Serve the Community The squad recently purchased a boat to perform rescues from the Passaic River. At this time, TAPinto Nutley is waiting for documents related to the cost of that boat.
The commissioner's statement makes mention of a " legal matters involving the squad including a lawsuit." An individual, who is no longer with the squad, and claims to be the party involved in the legal action, reached out to TAPinto Nutley Tuesday night. At this time, TAPinto Nutley is planning to meet with this party to report the facts of this matter.
In his statement, Commissioner Petracco stated described "NVERS President Jonathon Arrendondo as "a member of the squad and not a Nutley resident." During the public comments in the open public meeting on July 9, Petracco asked Chris Tyburski, who was making a comment about the ethics of having Geltrude hired, if he was a Nutley resident. TAPinto Nutley has learned that there are several individuals receiving paychecks from the township who are not residents. These include people in leadership roles in the Public Safety Department, IT Department, and other positions in the township.
In the press release, it was stated that "Commissioner Petracco in conjunction with the Township Attorney decided that in order to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest, and to appease the members of the NVERS, the Township will retain a different accounting firm to conduct certain agreed upon procedures of the organization’s financial transactions and to report their findings. As a result, the Township Attorney is recommending that at its next meeting, the Board retain a different accounting firm." The meeting of the Nutley Board of Commissioners is Tues. July 21, 2020. Like all meeting for the balance of 2020, that meeting will be conducting via ZOOM teleconference.
In the press release, Alphonse Petracco, Director of Public Safety, stated, "We need to re-establish the control and financial reporting relationship between NVERS and the Township to ensure that it does not risk losing its non-profit status with the IRS and continues to serve our community for years to come."
The release also stated, "This action does not in any way detract from the tremendous work of the NVERS and the lives they save every day."
After publication of the press release on July 14, NVERS issued a statement to TAPinto Nutley: “Members of NVERS are outraged at this attempt of hostile takeover, and this is the appreciation and thank you they received from the BOC after our members risked their lives responding during the COVID-19 pandemic for our residents.”
This subject is fast-moving, TAPinto Nutley will continue full-team coverage as information becomes available. Links to previous articles, letters to the editor, and the press release related to this matter follow:
Township of Nutley Press Release:
Letters to the Editor:
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.