NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's school board voted on July 21 to switch from one of the state's joint insurance funds (JIF's) to another, although the change had already taken effect weeks earlier.
JIF's are groups of government agencies that agree to "pool" their risk and pay the costs incurred from lawsuits or other claims made against their members.
Claims are often related to the actions of government employees or incidents that happen on government property, and can include worker's compensation claims for injuries sufferred on the job.
As of July 1, the public school system in New Brunswick is now covered by the Middlesex County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund (MCMJIF), the same fund that provides coverage to the City of New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Parking Authority.
In total, the MCMJIF's membership includes 19 municipal governments, three parking authorities, and two school boards.
Previously, the school board was part of the NJ Schools Insurance Group (NJSIG), but officials say they expect to save money by switching to MCMJIF.
"Every 3 years we get quotes from insurance company providers and the contract are awarded on a three year basis," said Richard Jannarone, Business Administrator for the district.
"The JIF was about $65,000 dollars cheaper than [NJSIG]," said Jannarone. "We realized excellent savings."
Being in the MCMJIF has also worked well for the city government. While the city has paid $15.3 million into the fund over the past fourteen years, it has also seen more claims against it than any of the other members by far.
According to public records, the other governments in the MCMJIF have been forced to chip in an additional $4.6 million to pay off claims filed against New Brunswick's government since 2001.
Along with North Brunswick's Board of Education, the New Brunswick BOE is now one of two school systems and 24 total government agencies in the MCMJIF.
Officials at the MCMJIF said they were pleased to add the New Brunswick school board to its list of members.
"Based upon a review of the underwriting data, projected cost and loss history the Board had a favorable loss ratio which would make them a good addition to the JIF," said MCMJIF's Glen Kurtz, who said the school district dealt with the fund through a representative at the Pavese-McCormick insurance agency.
Officials at the fund said they were pitching another new member on joining the JIF: the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, which runs the county landfill and a large sewer system.
The fund was created in 1986 by New Brunswick and seven other communities in Middlesex County, and grew into one of the largest funds of its kind.
The fund is run almost entirely by a private company based in Old Bridge called "Governmental Risk Management Associates," which appears to be the Kurtz family business.
The GRMA website, from 2009, includes an "About Us" page that remains under construction.
MCMJIF Fund Administrator William Kurtz and Associate in Risk Management Glen Kurtz are the only two employees listed on the fund's website, and a list of "partners" on the GRMA website reveals two: Piscataway-based Qualcare Inc. and a company run by another member of the Kurtz family.
No representative of the school board was present for the fund's July 22 board meeting. The fund's next public meeting is scheduled for September 23 at noon inside the GRMA offices at 2 Jocama Boulevard in Old Bridge.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.