Leighton denies WAEMS subsidy increase request

The Leighton Township Board Thursday night denied a request for an increase in financial support from Wayland Area Emergency Services.

The ambulance service has indicated its need to cover a budget shortfall and its intention to purchase new vehicles. Therefore it asked Leighton to double its annual subsidy from $18,991 to $37,982 as a one-time increase.

Township Supervisor Steve Wolbrink told board colleagues, “I think that’s a lot to ask from the townships. It seems a little expensive.

WAEMS serves 10 townships, including Leighton, the City of Wayland and Gun Lake tribal lands. It was noted that the city’s subsidy and that of Dorr Township are larger based on service activity.

Though Wolbrink agreed the one-time increase would improves the ambulance service’s financia;l condition by the end or the year, “I’m an advocate of the ambulance service to be self-sufficient.”

Trustee John Hooker suggested WAEMS talk to members of the Gun Lake Tribe, owners of the casino, which has been supportive of area public services.

In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the board:

  • Learned from Citizens Road Committee representative Steve Shoemaker that the condition of the one-lane bridge on 140th Avenue west of 10th Street is very poor.

Wolbrink replied that he has learned estimates for repair and restoration would be about two and a half million dollar and Allegan County Road Commission engineers “have said it is structurally sound.”

Actually, the supervisor said the Road Commission has determined that the light traffic at the bridge does not warrant some extensive work.

Shoemaker added, “Anybody driving farm machinery over that bridge probably would be exceeding load limits.”

  • Adopted a resolution increasing township officials’ pay by 3 percent, starting in the next fiscal year April 1. Wolbrink’s salary would increase from $17,067 to $18,136, Treasurer Jaci Bultsma and Clerk Rachel Fennema from $27,701 to $28,533, and Trustees John Hooker and Brian Bonnema from $3,050 to $3,193.
  • Was told by Planning Commission representative Hooker that plans for Phase 2 of the Harvest Meadows condominium project are going back to the drawing board because the units are too close together.
  • Learned that the Planning Commission has approved a special use permit for the Leighton Township Library addition.
  • Scheduled a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11.

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