Board to consider funding night/ weekend fire department coverage

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Township Board during its meeting at 6:30 p.m. today will consider an increase to the special assessment that funds its fire department and emergency medical services program.

The request is for up to an additional 1 mill on the township’s current 2.5-mill special assessment. It would help support paid part-time or full-time firefighters with certification as emergency medical technicians working between 5 and 9 p.m. on weekdays and during the weekends, according to a June 13 memo to the board from Fire Chief Dan Shanahan and Township Manager Randy Girard.

The board issued a directive in October for more in-depth cost projections related to the proposed staffing shift.

One full-time firefighter/EMT with a starting wage including taxes and typical benefits would cost $62,814, which is about .25 mill, the memo states.

“To effectively provide service during the targeted evening and weekend hours would require a minimum of two, preferably four additional firefighter/EMTs — .5 to 1 additional mill,” the memo states.

The request is the result of a yearly increase in calls, officials say, with those requiring emergency medical response far outpacing fire response requests.

“That trend is continuing, and the emergency medical response aspect accounted for 80% of the 2018 response volume,” the memo states, “and 81% of the response volume through May of this year.”

The township currently has six full-time firefighters who are backed up by paid on-call firefighters for evening and weekend shifts.

“This has worked well and provides a very rapid daytime dispatch response,” the memo states. “Under this scenario, the evening, night and weekend response rate relies solely on paid on-call firefighters and firefighter/EMTs.”

Unlike millage proposals, special assessments can be changed by a vote of the board, rather than a ballot item decided by township residents.

The board is also expected to consider a non-exclusive trail license agreement with the Noquemanon Trail Network, and a $7,500 proposal from Stantec Michigan Consulting Inc. to assist the township with “digitization and database population” of its wastewater system.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.