September 1, 2011 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Jennifer Mann, the leader of Citizens Action Group of Plymouth, said that she and the members of the group will not “give up” and plan to continue to gather signatures on a petition requesting a 1-mill ballot question to fund the Plymouth Township Fire Department.
Last week, during a contentious meeting, petitions submitted to the members of the board of trustees and township administrators were rejected by the board.
Instances of unclear property ownership, similar handwriting in spousal signatures and failure of petitioners to sign each document were cited, along with a 1951 town- ship ordinance regarding petition, millage and assessment language.
“We’re disappointed,” Mann said following the meeting. “But we will continue to get signatures and go for the Feb. 28, 2012 ballot.”
Mann explained that when the parcels of land in question were removed from the valid signatures, the group was 1.2 percent short of the required percentage of property owners’ signatures required to place the issue on the ballot.
“We can wait until the sale of the land at Seven Mile back to the township is finalized, which would exempt it, and then we have the percentage we need or we can continue. We’re going to continue,” she said.
Her efforts and those of members of the group members are being applauded by several township residents, among them Don Howard, a 35-year resident, who has had serious heart surgery and depends on the current Advanced Life Support system to come to his aid should he experience an emergency incident.
Howard has done extensive research into the current fire department staffing and structure and said he finds the current structure “curious.” “Only in Plymouth Township can the Advanced Life Support show up, treat you just like an emergency room on wheels and then have to wait for an outside ambulance service to transport you to the hospital.
“That outside service then bills the patient or the patient’s insurance company.
“That is, to me, ridiculous. Why can’t the township fire department take patients to the hospital and the township bill for the transport?”
Howard said Northville Township had a similar arrangement with Huron Valley Ambulance. When the outside transport was discontinued and patients were taken to the hospital by the emergency service department, the service generated nearly $400,000 during the first six months for the community.
Township officials have been struggling to fill a $1 million shortfall in the fire department budget since the City of Plymouth ended the joint operating agreement for fire service. That agreement generated about 25 percent of the $4 million fire department budget.
Township officials have reportedly planned to lay off more of the current 26- man department, close a fire station and dis- continue the Advanced Life Support service. Howard is concerned that without that service, his circumstances would result in a dire outcome should he have a cardiac incident.
Howard said there has been no effort to discontinue the outside transport which might generate revenue. He is also concerned about the money spent to train the current emergency responders.
“The township spent $1 million to train these guys in Advance Life Support and now the board wants to just cancel it,” he said. “That seems a waste to me.”
Mann, who is the wife of a fire department lieutenant, said that her involvement is not about saving her husband’s job.
“My husband is high enough in seniority that this really wouldn’t affect him,” she said. “This is about doing the right thing.”