LAPEER COUNTY — Due to potentially confusing verbiage, the Lapeer County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) millage renewal has been moved to the Tuesday, Aug. 4 primary election ballot.
The original proposal, a five year reduced millage rate of 0.8992 mill for the countywide ambulance service, was to have appeared on the March 10 presidential primary ballot.
Lapeer County EMS Director Russ Adams explained that the change was necessitated by the appearance of an error in the original ballot language that wrongly requested that millage funds go to the “Lapeer County Emergency Services Authority.”
Adams said the ballot language should have indicated that millage funds go to the “Lapeer County Emergency Medical Services Authority.”
Though the ballot language had been approved by Lapeer County Commissioners in early December, the error was not discovered until shortly before the Christmas holidays.
“The omission of the word ‘Medical’ required that we rescind the language,” said Adams. “There was barely enough time to do that, and the legal department of the elections bureau, in discussion with our legal counsel, determined the requested change was ‘substantive,’ which meant they could not change the submitted language.
“Though it seemed obvious who would receive the funds,” said Adams, “because there is no such entity as ‘Lapeer County Emergency Services Authority’ and considering the previous litigation over our millage language in 2016, we felt there was no option but to pull it.”
Adams noted that those past legal challenges from Almont, Marathon and Deerfield Townships cost taxpayers dearly and that future challenges would likely do the same.
“The past legal challenge cost taxpayers on both sides considerably,” Adams said. “We could not risk potential exposure or a repeat of costly legal defense.”
Adams opined that the cost of holding a special millage election would have been excessive and would not have been fiscally responsible to Lapeer County taxpayers.
“That left us with the August 4 primary election as the best option,” he said.
“The ballot language and proposal will be the same as proposed, but with the addition of the word, Medical.”
In November 2016, voters narrowly approved the original one mill proposal that prevented Lapeer County EMS from having to close its doors.