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Schmidt introduces legislation to aid local first responders

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt on Wednesday introduced legislation that would provide local governments with alternative and more efficient methods for purchasing emergency response vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances.

“Townships, villages, and cities finance fire trucks, ambulances, land and other acquisitions through installment purchase agreements,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “However, emergency authorities are not able to use these types of agreements and are often saddled into a deal that is not as cost-effective or beneficial to the purchasing authority.”

Senate Bill 821 would amend the Emergency Services to Municipalities Act to allow an emergency authority to purchase real or personal property under an installment purchase agreement. Currently, if an emergency authority needs to purchase a new vehicle, like a fire truck or ambulance, they must agree to a lease that often allows the option to purchase a vehicle at the end of the agreement. Often, this method of purchasing is financially less advantageous to an authority than an installment plan.

Roy Griffitts, president of the Lake Charlevoix Emergency Medical Services Authority board of directors, said this legislation will open the door and allow new options for first responders throughout the state to equip their departments and provide care to area residents.

“The creation of the Lake Charlevoix EMS Authority with its partnering members allows better, more efficient care throughout the region, and this proposal from Sen. Schmidt would give us another tool to help improve response times and provide the emergency services people deserve,” Griffitts said. “We currently have two vehicles that are nearing the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced, and this bill would provide an avenue to do so in a significantly more affordable fashion.

“We have a duty to respond to emergencies, but I also believe we have a duty to be responsible with people’s hard-earned tax dollars.”

SB 821 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government.