RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Township Council met Thursday night, Oct. 2, to follow up on a resident’s Atlantic Health bill, town hall fire and energy aggregation.
Town Manager Stephen Mountain followed up on the matter brought to Councilman Michael Guadagno’s attention about a resident’s recent ambulance bill from the Atlantic Health Ambulance Service. Mountain went over the specific matter as well as the entire issue of billing protocol in regards to the contract at a meeting with Atlantic Health.
"They are following the contract as a whole in respect to billing. The situation may have come through an unfortunate issue but it has led to some good communication. I was very pleased by the professionalism and the way they came to the table. I do believe that they truly want to do a good job for the town," said Mountain.
Documentation presented at the meeting reported complicating issues. The family that was billed thought their insurance paperwork was submitted prior to the claim. When it came through the Atlantic Health processing system it appeared as though the individual did not have insurance.
The individual was connected with Atlantic Health. After several conversations, there was an understanding of the situation and Atlantic Health is currently working with the resident on a retroactive appeal process with Medicare.
"Our main concern was that Atlantic was not balancing billing, which had been a problem in the past. They are very open. If you do get any other concerns or issues that arise they've provided contact information for people to be involved,” said Mountain.
Moving forward, Atlantic Health will report a monthly spreadsheet of billing statements to be moderated. A second follow up will also be held with the resident’s family to assure their satisfaction with the resolution.
Mountain also reported on the small fire at town hall on Sept. 20. The fire damaged the Support Services area at police headquarters. Due to timing, present officers, the fire department’s prompt response, and the activating sprinkler system the damage was very limited.
The determined cause of the fire was due to a battery charger for a hand held radar gun that overheated. The fire went up the wall to the ceiling, which activated the sprinklers. The Support Service has temporarily moved to a conference room and will be operating from there.
"We were very fortunate. The impact of the loss could have been a lot worse. We have received some very nice offers from surrounding towns that heard about the fire and asked if we needed anything. It's very reassuring to see that generosity and willingness to help," said Mountain.
The council also discussed possible energy aggregation. The state passed legislation in recent years to take advantage of energy aggregation. Currently, the town already does it as an organization.
Energy Aggregation allows groups of consumers to purchase energy together in an effort to secure lower rates from third party suppliers. These savings pass directly to the consumers and the township has no out of pocket expenses.
It is an Opt-Out program. Any residents may withdraw before the aggregation begins, and they may leave any time thereafter with no early termination fee.
Mountain expressed that if the town follows through with the idea it should be done through the CO-OP approach and the town should hire their own energy consultant to manage the process.
Councilman Mark Forstenhaulser brought up a similar case that his father experienced when he switched to an alternate energy source a few years ago. They discovered that he was actually paying more with the alternative.
"The first couple months the bills were low and then went to the sky. If anyone has an issue with their bill, you're going to be getting phone calls. We're going to be getting phone calls," said Mark Forstenhausler.
Another issue he mentioned was when the firehouse was examining energy aggregation, the company guaranteed a locked in rate for a period of time. There was a discussion that the electric companies rates actually fluctuated. Some months were higher and some months were lower, which could not be determined if there was really any savings.
Councilman Guadagno stated that regardless if the town pursues the idea the percentage residents would be saving would be very minuscule. The decision to switch to an alternate energy source awaits further discussion.