Public hearing date set for Dowagiac ambulance Special Assessment District proposal

Published 2:26 pm Thursday, February 29, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — The City of Dowagiac took another step toward fully reestablishing ambulance services to the community after the August 2023 shutdown of Pride Care.

The Dowagiac City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday that sets a March 25 public hearing for consideration of a special assessment district for ambulance services for the city.

At the last City Council meeting, the Council authorized starting the process necessary to fund the rebuilding of ambulance services to the community in the wake of the abrupt, with no notice shutdown of Pride Care. Since September 2023, the Cass/Van Buren Emergency Services Authority and Cass County Ambulance Authority have contracted with SMCAS, a regional ambulance service owned by member municipalities, to provide one fully staffed ALS vehicle to our area while working through the details of expanding to a second similarly staffed ALS vehicle as quickly as practical. One of the two vehicles is located in the city-owned ambulance building on the corner of Pokagon Street and Enterprise Drive. 

The anticipated tax subsidy necessary to support two ALS ambulances serving both the CVBEMA and CCAA is $902,000. For the current members of both authorities, a formula based on three factors: taxable value, census, and a fixed share of the costs was thought to be a fair way to share the subsidy. As long as all current members of both authorities continue to participate, the city’s initial annual share of the subsidy would be approximately $127,000 for the first year. 

After the public hearing is held, if the council decides to proceed, it will adopt a resolution that determines the boundaries of the district and the amount to be assessed. The resolution will also direct that a special assessment roll be prepared spreading the special assessment levy on the taxable value of the properties benefited.

When the special assessment roll is reported to the council, the council would receive the roll. After the public hearing, the council, if it chooses to do so, would adopt a resolution confirming the roll. 

When all four resolutions have been completed, the special assessment becomes due and is collected at the same time and in the same manner as city taxes. Throughout the process there is opportunity for citizens to call for a referendum and appeal their individual assessment. 

The special assessment based upon the city’s current taxable value would be approximately 1.4 mills. Getting the SAD on the summer tax bill will require council to complete the process by June 1.

In other business, the council approved a proposal from GHD Services Inc.

for Professional Services for Select Residential Well Survey Activities for the former Dowagiac Landfill. Part of the City’s on-going responsibilities for the former landfill on Nubour is to maintain, inspect, monitor, and report gas monitoring activities. For several years the city has worked with GHD to develop a monitoring program that meets MDEQ criteria and then execute the program. This agreement is a continuation of services and is expected to cost $22,680.

In further news, the council also approved a resolution for the City’s intention to apply for funding and to approve a request for financial assistance from MDOT for Dial-A-Ride in 2025. While the city operates under a master contract for these funds with the State, it still needs to apply for funding on an annual basis and include budget projections. The state’s share of the operating budget is projected at estimated federal funds $69,112 estimated state funds $142,418 estimated local funds $180,590 with total estimated expenses of $392,120.