As a committee of the township council examines the proposed 2012 operating budget, focus has been placed on the township's police EMS service.
"Every department has been coming under scrutiny," Councilman Dan Toth said Tuesday.
But the existence of the Police EMS service, created several years ago after concerns were raised about a lack of volunteers available to answer emergency calls, has been called into question.
"One of the main reasons this is coming up for discussion amongst the committee is because it was hemorrhaging about $200,000 per year," Toth said.
The EMS service, which comes under the purview of the police department, is staffed by paid employees. They provide basic life support, or BLS, service, officials said.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis has said some members of the council's Budget and Finance Committee have questioned whether a private ambulance service should respond to BLS calls in Brick rather than township employees.
The administration has budgeted $845,100 for EMS salaries and wages this year with another $124,800 set aside for expenses, making the total cost of EMS services $969,900. Revenue is generating by charging fees to health insurance companies, however.
Eliminating EMS service from the township budget could have an impact on residents in terms of both cost as well as response times, Acropolis said, indicating that he would like to retain the service.
Unlike private EMS services, the township bills insurance providers for service but does not charge residents extra. Those who do not have health insurance are not sent a bill.
"With a lot of people being out of work, some people don't have insurance, so some of those billings have gone down," Acropolis said.
Councilman Bob Moore said his main concern is response times. He said volunteer EMS services in town are actively recruiting new members and hope to become more active in the near future. A successful recruiting effort could help reduce the need for police EMS services, he added.
"Of course, time is crucial when somebody's life is on the line," Moore said.
Acropolis suggested the township might pursue getting involved in advanced life support, or ALS, services in the future. Those advanced services are currently performed by licensed paramedics who work for MONOC. Paramedics are able to administer drugs and perform procedures BLS responders cannot. Their fees are also higher.
As for the future of township-provided EMS services, the answer may come next week when the council hopes to introduce its 2012 operating budget.
"Everything's on the table," said Toth. "It comes down to dollars and cents."