Benton Twp. rescinds OK of Medic 1 changes

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township officials and trustees have a problem with some of the proposed changes to Medic 1’s charter.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Benton Township trustees unanimously revoked a resolution that they passed in April that essentially approved the latest amendment to the articles of incorporation that govern Medic 1.

In an effort to modify the extended service area, Medic 1 made several changes to its articles of incorporation that included removing and adding a few municipalities within its coverage area.

Among those changes, the Southwest Michigan emergency service provider chose to eliminate Spectrum Health Lakeland as an ex officio board member.

Treasurer Debbie Boothby, who acts as the township’s representative on Medic 1’s board, said they missed this change and have not been given a reason for it.

“We want more information as to why they wanted to exclude Lakeland’s seat from the board,” Boothby said. “It’s a non-voting seat, but we want to know why.”

Boothby said this move is confusing since the majority of Medic 1’s ambulances end up transporting residents to Lakeland facilities.

Revoking the resolution on Tuesday doesn’t affect the township’s service agreement with Medic 1. However, no changes can be made to the articles of incorporation until every member municipality approves the latest amendment.

That means Lakeland keeps its seat on the Medic 1 board as well.

“We did our due diligence, but unfortunately we missed that clause,” Boothby told trustees. “It was important enough for us to get some more information.”

Boothby said they had asked several times to get “red lined copies” that point out what exactly is being changed.

She said it took several attempts to get different versions of the amendment, but that it was never brought to their attention that Lakeland would be eliminated from the board.

According to Superintendent Kelli Smith, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph have not approved the articles of incorporation.

The township’s attorney wrote up a document that would revoke the township’s previous approval.

“We got a detailed explanation of the extended service area member change,” Smith said. “After several correspondences, they did mention they were removing the ex officio board member section. It was an oversight on our part. But there was no previous discussion on this. We have not heard from the director of Medic 1 on what the deletion was made for.”

Hartford, Hartford Township and Watervliet Township were part of an exodus from Medic 1 last year.

Trustee Linda Scarbrough was absent from Tuesday’s meeting. The next board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on June 4 at Benton Township Hall.

Contact: twittkowski@TheHP.com, 932-0358, Twitter: @TonyWittkowski