Nov. 05--Niles Charter Township officials are not in favor of pursuing a plan that would merge ambulance and fire department services in the greater Niles-Buchanan area.
On Monday, township trustees voted unanimously to not support Tim Gray, executive director of Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service, in his pursuit of a state grant that would pay for a feasibility study of the proposal.
Gray was scheduled to speak to the trustees Monday about the plan, but did not show up to the meeting.
Because of Gray's absence, Township Supervisor Jim Stover provided his understanding of the plan, which he said was created by Gray and Niles City Fire Chief Larry Lamb.
Stover said the merger would require firefighters to be trained to do the duties of paramedics and vice versa. The goal of the merger, he said, would be to increase the amount of trained people able to respond to emergency calls.
Several members of the board expressed concern that the merger would cost the township's taxpayers more money.
"I'm not in favor of it because I don't think you can get any more efficient than what we have cost wise," said Treasurer Jim Ringler.
Township Clerk Terry Eull said, to his knowledge, the township was never asked to participate in the creation of the plan. He was also upset that Gray didn't show up to the meeting.
"How do you expect us to be part of something when you don't let us participate?" Eull asked. "I am extremely disappointed in that."
Trustee Chris Vella said she could not support the plan because it did not look at all possible solutions.
"This is not an unprejudiced study," she said. "I understand they need help, I just don't believe this is the only way to help them."
The Niles City Council approved the pursuit of the grant Oct. 28.
According to the plan, the merger would affect the townships of Niles, Buchanan, Bertrand, Howard and Pokagon, and the cities of Buchanan and Niles.
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