MENOMINEE — The 2020/2021 Menominee County budget will undergo some final revisions before being presented at a public hearing Sept. 22.
The county board of commissioners discussed the budget further Tuesday and made some last changes to the draft. Two major changes include how the budgeted money to support rescue squads in the county will be divided between the three squads that service and Menominee County and the inclusion of funding for a kayak launch.
Menominee County has $6,500 budgeted to support rescue squads that service Menominee County. In previous years, Emergency Rescue Services, Inc. (ERS), located in Marinette, received $5,500 and Mid-County Rescue, located in Stephenson, received $1,000. Hermansville Rescue Squad did not receive anything.
ERS services Menominee County up to the Ingallston-Menominee border.
However, Commissioner David Prestin requested that the money be split between all three emergency response services equally. He said this would be the best way Menominee County can treat each fairly.
“We’ve got Hermansville up north and they get nothing,” he said.
Prestin said the Emergency Response Service in Marinette is a great service but there are many redundancies with how its funded.
“It would be equitable to give all three services a fair share,” Prestin said. “It costs just as much to keep an ambulance on the road in Mid-County and Hermansville as it does in Marinette.”
He explained that he had no issue with supporting ERS and he believes they provide valuable services to Menominee County, but he would like to see all three given the same amount of money.
“They’re excellent EMTs and they provide an excellent service, but the fact is they get much more support down here than what the northern-part of the county gets,” Prestin said.
Commissioner Steve Gromala said when this money was budgeted originally, years ago, it was intended for each of the entities to receive an equal share of the money.
“I believe that’s how it should be, again,” he said.
Administrative Assistant Sherry DuPont said she has always sent letters to all the emergency response services, including the rescue squads, asking if they have additional funding requests from the county but Hermansville never responded.
“I think the right thing to do is to treat them all equally, and that should start this year,” Prestin explained.
In order to break up the $6,5000 equally among Hermansville, Mid-County and ERS, each agency must enter into an operation agreement with Menominee County. DuPont said if any of the squads don’t respond, they cannot receive the money.
This change is expected to be in the final budget, pending the operation agreements are finalized and signed.
At the meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Larry Phelps also requested that the funding for an ADA-compliant kayak launch at Mason Park to remain in the budget for the next fiscal year.
“It is a handicap kayak launch, it will service handicap people, senior citizens, veterans,” he said. “This is a park outside the city limits that people haven’t even realized the potential it has and I am heart-set on this project.”
The project has not yet begun because Phelps explained there are certain requirements the county first meet before it can begin looking into obtaining bids for the construction. He said by keeping the funding in the budget, it would show the people of Menominee County that its projects are there to serve people and not just to make money.