The question of whether a volunteer rescue squad is subject to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) will be decided by Burlington County Assignment Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder in the case of  Brooks v. Tabernacle Rescue Squad, Inc., Docket No. BUR-L-2629-13. Brooks’ complaint and letter brief, filed by Clinton attorney Walter M. Luers, are on-line here.

Plaintiff Fran Brooks, a resident of Tabernacle Township, Burlington County, submitted an OPRA request to the squad in September 2013 seeking “reports for drivers of all ambulances and Rescue Truck for the period of January 1, 2013 through July 31, 2013.”  Her request was denied on the grounds that the rescue squad is not a public agency within the meaning of OPRA.

Brooks argues that the rescue squad is subject to OPRA because Tabernacle Township, in 2010, floated a four-million-dollar bond to construct a new facility for Squad. Brooks also notes that Tabernacle’s Township Attorney has billed the Township for legal services provided to the rescue squad and that the Township pays $70,000 per year to the rescue squad, accounting for 60% of the squad’s overall revenue. Brooks also argues that the squad performs a “traditional public function” and is thus an “instrumentality” of the Township.

The case will likely be heard in February or March 2014.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]