October 15, 2018

Two EMS millages to appear on August ballot

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Two new millages up for a vote across Oscoda County on the August ballot will affect the county EMS.

The EMS operation millage is for 1.5 mills and the EMS equipment millage is for 0.25 mill, both over four years. If approved, the millages are estimated to bring in a combined $684,618 in the first year.

The equipment millage would cover the acquisition and maintenance of vehicles and any other inventory EMS needs.

Board of commissioners Chairperson LaNita Olsen said the reason these millages are important is obvious.

“The reason we need these millages is to protect the people,” Olsen said.

Earlier this year Comins Township Supervisor Warren Miller said the county would be hard pressed to pass these millages without stationing an ambulance crew in the new Fairview firehouse. By June 1 this will have been done, with the county EMS officially taking up residence in Fairview. Now that an agreement has been made, Miller said he hopes the millage passes.

“I hope that it would (pass),” Miller said. “I hate to think of what would happen if the county lost its EMS service. … I’ve heard of municipalities and schools that privatize this type of help usually finding services that are of a lower quality than if it’s taken care of in-house.”

Miller said a key component of whether these millages pass is the residents’ trust in the board of commissioners.

“I think people want to know that the money is going to be spent wisely and efficiently,” Miller said. “It’s important the board of commissioners are able to convince residents that is what they are doing.”

If the millages do not pass, Commissioner Pat Kelly said the EMS service would not disappear overnight.

“We would have to look at other means out there,” Kelly said. “… Possibly merging with another service or privatizing. There are other things out there. … We will do whatever we can to ensure Oscoda County has an EMS service.”

Kelly said one possibility would be to shrink the EMS presence in the county from two 24-hour ambulances to one.

The Oscoda County primary election will be held Aug. 7.

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