East Jordan ambulance authority idea gains traction
East Jordan EMS (FILE PHOTO / May 9, 2013)
At its meeting Tuesday, the East Jordan City Commission appointed city administrator Chris Yonker to sit on a committee tasked with drawing up articles of incorporation for the proposed authority.
It would be an independent governmental entity, funded by a millage voted on by residents within the specific area served, and made up of a governing body with voting members from units of government within the service area. The city of East Jordan and six surrounding townships are currently and would continue to be served including Eveline, South Arm, Wilson, Banks, Echo and Jordan. If the millage that is eventually proposed were to fail, the entity would cease to exist.
Funding ambulance services in the city and those six townships in recent years has been a challenge. The city currently runs the department, funded by Medicare and contributions from the townships.
Medicare money makes up about 65 percent of the current EMS department's revenue, and the rates of how that funding is distributed has not increased since 1992, said EMS director Jay Peck.
"What we're trying to achieve is sustainability," he said. "That's what we're trying to do."
Wilson Township Supervisor Todd Sorenson presented information to the commission at the meeting about what the authority might look like and what steps need to be taken to move forward with its creation.
Bryan Graham, a Bellaire attorney that successfully helped create an ambulance authority in Antrim County, is helping the group with plans to do the same thing in the East Jordan area, explained Sorenson.
"They have buildings, equipment, carry insurance, then hire Allied EMS to come in and perform the EMS services for them," Sorenson said of the Antrim County authority. "Our intent is to ensure (the service) will be there in the future for all of us."
The articles of incorporation, the creation of which will now move forward since East Jordan agreed to sign on to the idea, will provide framework for the authority. Some items that will be included in the articles are the name of the authority, who and how many members will be on the board of directors, terms of office, employees and officers, budget and accounting, financing of the authority such as how many mills to request, lease of ambulance barns and rent and dissolution procedures.
"I totally believe in this concept and totally believe all the townships have to be fair to the city. I truly believe that no one will be hurt in this formation," said South Arm Township Supervisor Bob Christiansen, who was also present at the meeting Tuesday.
The only caveat to the concept of each township having one vote on a board of directors and the entire district being covered by the same millage, is that state statute doesn't allow partial units of government to be part of an authority. So, the three partial townships currently covered by the EMS service would become paying entities rather than incorporating entities.
Wilson Township is one of those townships that is split and a portion is covered by the service. He has no problem with being a paying member, said Sorenson, the township has its own EMS millage already and could use that to pay the fees for services.
Other partial townships that would be considered non-incorporating members of the authority include Eveline and Banks townships. Fully incorporated members would be the city of East Jordan and South Arm, Echo and Jordan townships.
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