Oscoda Co. EMS Millage Aims To Improve Response Time, Balance Budget

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“If we don’t have two ambulances rolling, we are looking at long, long wait times.”

A new millage for Oscoda County’s struggling EMS service is on the table for voters.

Without it, the county fears the issues plaguing it will only get worse.

Problems appeared on paper for Oscoda County EMS when an auditor found a $170,000 budget shortfall last June.

On top of that, a millage that kept it running for 16 years is set to expire at the end of the year.

The Oscoda County EMS directors say they are running on a negative budget and expect to be in the red next year.

They hope this new millage can change that.

“The main thing is to make sure that the community realizes that we are not doing this because we want to. It’s because we have to,” says Christopher Wilson, assistant interim director for Oscoda County EMS.

Wilson says too few aging ambulances and constant calls are some of the factors that have resulted in a blow to response time.

“It’s a two-hour turnaround time if there is only one ambulance,” Wilson says. “If we have two ambulances, if the other ambulance is out because the other one will be coming from wherever it was stationed but it will be in the county.”

The old millage, he argues, no longer enough to meet expenses.

“Right now, with the $385,000 plus our revenue, it comes out to about $900,000 but our expenses exceed $930,000,” Wilson says.

The impact on taxes was a portion of what was discussed during a meeting Tuesday night with EMS in Mio.

“The average household value is around $50,000 which will equate to about $46 per year but that’s per mill, so when you step with the millage this year, this year only will be about $134 for the year and then after that will be about $93,” Wilson says.

“It does not mean the end of EMS,” says Lanita Olsen, board chair.

If the millage fails, Olsen, who is also one of two interim EMS directors, says they will have to find another way to keep EMS local.

“It’s not ever going to be a profitable situation for a private company to work it,” Olsen says. “We have found out through months of grueling and looking over the bills.”

“We really want it to go through but if they come in and at least get the information, and they still think they need to vote no, then at least they are making an educated vote,” Wilson says.

Wilson says the new millage could also allow EMS to have two ambulances in two different towns 24-7.