Solicitor said funds might be needed cover litigation costs
PETERSBURG – Upper Township Committee held a lengthy discussion at their regular meeting, Nov. 28, as to how to allocate the $42,000 Joint Insurance Fund (JIF) dividend it will receive from 2022.
The JIF dividends are distributed in varying amounts annually. The New Jersey municipal JIF is the largest stand-alone joint insurance fund in the state, whose member towns comprise over one million residents according to information on its website.
Committee member comments centered around whether the dividend should be added to the township’s aggregate excess loss line item or its contingency fund to bolster the 2023 budget. According to Chief Financial Officer Barbara Ludy, in the past few years JIF dividends have been used to shore up the municipal contingency fund as the most advantageous financial option. Departing Committee Member John Coggins offered his opinion based on his role as committee member responsible for financial affairs.
“I won’t be on committee for 2023, but next year’s budget is going to be very difficult, and we could very much use the money there,” he said.
After weighing various scenarios, the township committee opted to place the funds in the contingency fund, which has a current balance of $134,000.
Upper Township Solicitor Dan Reeves referred to items listed for closed session discussion scheduled after the public portion of the meeting.
“The township is facing a number of personnel litigation complaints. There could be payouts for these complaints although as of now I believe they have zero merit. Nevertheless, I share the opinion that’s been expressed by committee that it is beneficial to have a hefty reserve if we can and use the JIF divided for that purpose,” he said.
The committee asked whether the dividend, once received and deposited, could be reappropriated for another purpose. Ludy said she would look into that option, so the township is prepared, if needed.
“After (the) committee meeting and the closed session, when members can sort out some of these various pending lawsuits, we’ll have a better understanding of what financially may be at stake,” Reeves said. “As of now, it’s anyone’s guess how much if anything they will total and add to already seriously mounting legal bills.”