"No matter what happens, they will always have EMS service. Always,” says Tom Williams, Antioch Township Supervisor.
A compromise between a Northern Michigan rescue squad and the townships they serve following months of uncertainty.
The Mesick Rescue Squad serves five townships in Wexford County and has for decades.
But not all those townships will levy a new millage to pay for upgrades, leaving a question mark about the squad’s future.
Funding issues over the Mesick Rescue Squad started in August in Wexford County.
9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Derrick Larr looked into what’s going on, and if it will affect ambulance service.
“Several years ago, the squad had to ask for a millage from the townships,” says Craig Gabier, a 46-year retired member of the Mesick Rescue Squad.
It started with a 3-quarters mill request for a new ambulance and equipment.
“The squad reached a point where they had approximately $450,000 in reserve, which seems like a lot of money but when you look at a new [ambulance], you are looking at $200,000,” Gabier says.
They also need to replace a 1992 rescue truck and outdated Jaws of Life.
“With a vehicle and getting a new set of jaws and equipment, you are likely to spend $160,000, $170,000 on that,” Gabier says.
“They did not show up with their budget or millage request,” Williams says. “We decided because of the financial statement we received, they should not receive any millage money in this first year of the millage."
The squad and Antioch Township Supervisor, Tom Williams, say there was poor communication.
“We felt that having over almost a half-a-million dollars, we felt that the money should be spent wisely because stewardships are the money, so all five townships had Mesick Rescue come to the meeting,” Williams says.
“They tried to have some meetings,” Gabier says. “Some of the township couldn’t make it. Next meeting, some of the squad couldn’t make it."
The squad ordered the new ambulance, which they’ll get in about two weeks.
Williams says they can request the millage again Fall 2017 for the rest of the equipment.
“Everything should be on the up-and-up and we will look at their budget, if they give us one, next fall,” Williams says.
Meanwhile, the Mesick Rescue Squad’s ambulance service is not affected, and a meeting is scheduled for the public at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5 at the Antioch Township Hall.
“The people in these five townships are just great,” Gabier says. “They understand the need for the rescue squad, the fire department so I think we are in okay shape right now."