LOSAP Payments Close to Realization in Ship Bottom

Aug 09, 2017

The Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Co. and the Borough Council narrowly thwarted an impasse over tax-deferred income after documents requested to process payments under LOSAP, the Length of Service Award Program for emergency services volunteers, were recently received by Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Flanagan.

The system was established in 1998 by the state Department of Community Affairs for active volunteer service organization members.

“This year happens to be a unique year as I am the new administrator of this program here in Ship Bottom,” Flanagan said. “Not all the proper documentation was on file, which has caused a delay in contribution reporting.”

Fire company President Rick McDonough brought the issue to the table at the council’s last meeting July 25, saying the membership felt disrespected and disregarded due to the lack of a quick response to get the monies. At that time, the discussion appeared to dead-end in frustration on both sides.

Since the last council meeting, however, Flanagan said she’s received most of the necessary documents, and feels confident McDonough will forward the remaining documents to her in short order.

“Once I receive all the proper documentation, I review it closely to check to make sure everyone has been properly credited. Upon verification, a resolution is presented to Borough Council for approval,” Flanagan said, noting the maximum amount of contribution per member is $1,150 annually, which is split between the borough and Long Beach Township. “Once a member has had five qualifying years, they are considered vested in the LOSAP program and if they leave service, they can either leave the monies in the account to continue to accrue or they can withdrawal it. ”

She said once a member’s contributions are withdrawn, they are not eligible to be enrolled in the program again. If a member leaves service prior to vesting, the monies paid on account get returned to the borough upon request, Flanagan said.

To be eligible for LOSAP, a firefighter must be an active member of the Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Co., according to Flanagan. That requires an individual to meet certain criteria established by the department, she said, including being between the ages of 18 and 45, a resident of Ship Bottom fire district for more than six months, an American citizen and having completed a state-approved fire academy within one year of membership. After a full year, a firefighter may submit an application for enrollment into the LOSAP program and can begin to accrue points toward eligibility, she said.

“Any active member meeting the point system requirements of 50-plus points as outlined in Schedule A of Ordinance 2002-6 is then eligible for the Length of Service Award Program,” Flanagan said, noting the list of eligible members should be submitted to her no later than Jan. 31, 2018 for members whose eligibility was met this year. “Included with that list should be backup supporting documentation as to how each eligible member accumulated their points, i.e. meetings, fire calls, fundraisers, company drills, etc., along with the total number of fire calls responded to during the capture year.”

Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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