Dowagiac City Council approves interim ambulance service contract

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, September 13, 2023

DOWAGIAC — The City of Dowagiac is taking steps to fully reestablish ambulance services to the community after the abrupt shutdown of Pride Care.

The Dowagiac City Council unanimously authorized a 90-day contract agreement with the Central Cass Ambulance Authority and Southwest Michigan Community Ambulance Service for interim ambulance services. 

The Cass Van Buren Emergency Services Authority reached a preliminary agreement with CCAA and SMCAS last week, which left it up to each municipality to approve the contract during their scheduled meetings.

CVBESA is responsible for the coordination and the integration of all activities concerning emergency medical services to the residents and visitors of the City of Dowagiac, Penn Township, Silver Creek Township, Wayne Township, Keeler Township, Volinia Township, Pokagon Township and LaGrange Township.

SMCAS is a non-profit, municipally-owned and operated advanced life support ambulance service that has provided 24/7 emergency response in Southwest Michigan since 1976, serving residents within the Cities of Buchanan and Niles, as well as Buchanan, Niles, Howard, Bertrand, Milton and a portion of Pokagon Township.

“We’re very pleased that (SMCAS) came to the table willing to help the way they are,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson.

The contract with SMCAS calls for one Advanced Life Support unit stationed in Cass County that will be supported by mutual aid. The terms of the agreement are as follows:

  • The total cost for this service will be $24,000 per month which will be shared by eight townships and the City based on 2023 Taxable Values.
  • The agreement is for 90 days and renewal is possible.
  • The City’s share of the cost for the 90 days $5,451.52.
  • The Pokagon Township Supervisor is the CVBESA’s Treasurer and checks will be written to Pokagon Township who will serve as fiscal agent during this interim time.

Proposals for long-term services are being sought and under review by the both authorities with the expectation that a selection of a long-term solution will be defined and selected over the next 60 days.

“I think this is a good interim piece,” Anderson said. “In the meantime, we’ve got committees that are working with multiple ambulance services to get proposals and to see who can cover it and how quickly we could figure out how to cover those particular issues. So I think this is good first step and it helped buy some time and additional coverage for the community.”

In other business, city council approved a resolution that accepts two sidewalk trip hazard elimination proposals with Precision Concrete Cutting in the amount of $25,000 each.

The city has been working with Precision Concrete Cutting on a plan for eliminating trip hazards in the community. The plan began with a comprehensive review and rating of all the City sidewalks. These ratings were incorporated into a GIS program to help identify target areas.

The City completed the pilot project last year that focused on heavily traveled areas in thebdowntown area and routes to schools. 

Precision Concrete Cutting has prepared two proposals, for the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years, each contain $25,000 worth of removals. Work is slated to begin as early as Monday, Sept. 18 and will span into the following fiscal year, with an expected completion date in mid-October. This plan continues to focus on heavily traveled areas in the downtown and routes to schools.

In further business, the council approved a resolution authorizing the city to apply for the ninth round of Neighborhood Enhancement Program grants administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The NEP grant has allowed the city to assist 50 Dowagiac owners with more than $300,000 in grant dollars to make improvements to their homes. MSHDA is allowing the City to apply for a maximum grant of $75,000 this year.

This round, MSHDA said the City can use up to 25 percent of the grant funds to provide critical repairs to interiors of homes including plumbing, heating, and sewer/water corrections. City staff is requesting that $52,500 be used for exterior improvements, $15,000 be dedicated to interior critical needs and $7,500 – 10 percent – of the grant be kept for administrative costs. The application for Round 9 NEP funds is due September 30 but the city won’t know if we are awarded the grant until December.

Council also approved a proposal for Professional Services for the Brownfield Plan and Act 381 Work Plan for the South Front Street Redevelopment Area in the amount of $16,000.

The city believes that a vital part of the redevelopment of the S. Front Street area is forming a Brownfield, which will allow for the repayment of funds used to redevelop the site such as demolition site clean-up, extending water/sewer and other infrastructure such as sidewalks. The first step in creating a Brownfield is to develop the plan.

The city received a proposal from Fishbeck for professional services related to developing the Brownfield Plan for the site in the amount of $16,000. The scope would include developing both the Brownfield Plan and Act 381 Work Plan, leveraging contacts with the MEDC to gain state approval of the project and creating a tracking tool for administration of the future tax increments and disbursements. The City has historically used Fishbeck – formerly Envirologic – for this service and staff recommends utilizing them again for this project.