Save our SMCASPublished 9:32am Thursday, April 17, 2014
Is Niles Township serious about pulling out of Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service?
The Mayor of the City of Niles said as much during a Niles Council meeting of the whole on Monday.
However, when asked on Tuesday about the Mayor’s statement, the Supervisor of Niles Township went on record saying the township hasn’t discussed dropping SMCAS. Instead, he said the township is simply looking at other options in case the ambulance service was to ever become insolvent.
In our mind, there’s not much difference between “discussing dropping SMCAS” and “looking at other options.”
There’s no doubt that a rift has been created between the township and SMCAS, which is owned by six municipalities: the cities of Niles and Buchanan and the townships of Niles, Buchanan, Bertrand and Howard.
What’s not clear is what created that rift.
We know that the township isn’t happy with recent SMCAS audits showing six-figure budget deficits the past two years. We also know the township wants to eliminate the voting rights for SMCAS board representatives from Milton and Pokagon townships — two municipalities that contract SMCAS services, but don’t share ownership in the ambulance service.
Whatever the reason for the township’s displeasure with SMCAS, we hope township officials can work out a resolution without dropping the ambulance service.
There’s no way of knowing if SMCAS could survive financially if Niles Township — its largest source of funding in terms of per parcel assessment — were to go elsewhere.
By pulling out of SMCAS, the township wouldn’t just be hurting SMCAS, it would be hurting the surrounding communities that benefit from the ambulance service’s exceptional medical care.
All sides need to get together and hash out a solution before it is too late.
Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Craig Haupert, Ambrosia Neldon, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.