Commissioners vote to not roll back ambulance millage
LAKE COUNTY — During the Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, commissioners decided on which county-wide millages to roll back for the winter 2018 tax levy.
Considering their constituents' concerns on rolling back ambulance services, they approved levying the ambulance millage to the full legal levy, .9969.
This year, the commissioners decided to not roll back on road patrol, and voted in opposition to roll back on ambulance services. However, commissioners did approve rolling back on senior services and dispatch, adding the reduction plan won't mean a reduction in these services due to the surplus of revenue in the operating budgets.
Last year, commissioners approved a tax reduction plan, saving the county more than $1 million, by rolling back on taxes from surplus accrued on four millages, including road patrol, dispatch, senior services and ambulance services. Many area residents expressed being in favor of using the full amount of millage money to improve services.
During public comment, Elk Township Supervisor Lou Fitz, who has been a proponent of keeping ambulance services levied at the full amount, voiced his concern.
"A year later, after rolling back millages on public safety, you (the board of commissioners) are contemplating rolling back again," he said, noting he hasn't seen changes in response times in the past year in the northeast corner of the county. "Our request is to not roll back millages. Put money in the bank and when you have an opportunity to spend to improve services, the funds will be there."
Commissioner Joan Runnels said constituents from the townships she represents asked her to oppose rolling back ambulance services.
"I have listened to my townships on this issue and I am voting no to rolling back ambulance services, and I urge you all to vote no, too," she addressed to the board.
Commissioner Karl Walls said there have been many efforts and changes made to improve the ambulance services behind the scenes, and these changes will take time to notice a significant difference. One change is, the ambulances in the county are not being sent to Grand Rapids. He suggested the commissioners have a meeting with all the township supervisors to find solutions with services.