Emergency Transportation Services Ballot Proposal

Ballot Proposal Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this proposal coming before you now?

The City has the ability to levy up to 15 mills for general municipal purposes pursuant to its Charter.  As a result of Headlee rollbacks, the City’s current levy is 11.7688 mills. A City Commission Ad Hoc Committee was appointed to study and discuss the needs of the Fire Department for general operating purposes, consisting of fire department and emergency transportation services and facilities.  The Ad Hoc Committee presented its findings to the City Commission, who then discussed the levy of a dedicated millage of up to 1.0 mill for a period of 20 years for general operating purposes, consisting of fire department and emergency transportation services and facilities.  At its meeting on August 7, 2023 the City Commission adopted a resolution to place the ballot proposal before the voters for their consideration at the general election scheduled for Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

How does Traverse City Emergency Medical Services (EMS) service look now, and how could it change?

Currently the Traverse City Fire Department (TCFD) provides Advanced Life Support EMS first response to all medical 911 calls within the City. This means TCFD personnel arrives to the scene first and begins treatment if applicable. The majority of Traverse City Fire Department personnel are licensed paramedics.

The City of Traverse City contracts with Mobile Medical Response (MMR), a private, non-profit 501c(3) organization, for all patient transports (Emergency and Non-Emergency). When a 911 call is dispatched, TCFD has the ability to treat the patient immediately, and if an emergency transportation to the hospital is necessary, MMR would then arrive at the scene to transport the patient. In times that the transport company is unavailable, TCFD transports patients.  This currently happens in approximately 5% of calls. 

If TCFD becomes the primary emergency transporting agency, it would operate two ambulances for patient transports in the City. The TCFD personnel who initially responded would then transport the patient if necessary, to the hospital. 

What would the proposal for EMS transport include, if approved?

The proposal is for TCFD to provide primary emergency transport only.  Munson Medical Center would continue to transfer non-emergency patients between facilities, as is currently the case.  If approved, the proposal would provide revenue to support the proposed staffing model of nine additional firefighter/paramedics, one EMS captain, the purchase of additional equipment, and two new ambulances. This would not be the funding source for a new fire station.

What are the call volumes for medical calls and TCFD transport calls?

Year Medical Calls TCFD Transports
2019 2,441 36
2020 2,147 31
2021 2,466 145
2022 2,361 135


How is TCFD currently funded and how would the proposal change funding?

TCFD is supported through the Traverse City general operating budget. There are twenty-six personnel, this includes the Fire Chief and Administrative Assistant. Funding would remain the same.

If the proposal is approved in November, it would allow the City to levy up to 1 additional mill for EMS transport services. The funding revenues would support the expansion of EMS transport services, which includes additional personnel and equipment. 

The Police and Fire Department pension is funded through a separate millage under Act 345.  If the proposal for EMS transport is approved, the Act 345 millage will automatically increase proportionately with the increase in Fire Department personnel.

What are the options for billing?

Insurance companies only allow one vendor to bill for transport services. This means if TCFD responds to a call and begins treatment, and if the patient needs emergency transportation to the hospital and is transported by MMR, MMR becomes the provider that is able to bill the patient’s insurance carrier for service rendered. TCFD does not receive reimbursement for services provided. 

If TCFD becomes primary emergency transportation, TCFD becomes the provider that is able to receive reimbursement for services. The City may choose to bill the full amount for transport, or may choose to accept the amount that a patient’s insurance carrier reimburses for transport.

How many additional Firefighters would the City need to hire to staff EMS Transport services?

The proposed staffing model would add nine additional firefighter/paramedics and one EMS Captain.

How would increased EMS staffing work with current Fire Service?

All TCFD personnel (excluding the administrative assistant), have obtained Michigan Firefighter I and II certification, Michigan EMT Basic License/Certification, and have obtained or are obtaining their Michigan Paramedic License/Certification. 

There are currently three crews responding to medical/fire calls. Current staffing levels per crew consist of seven personnel.  If the proposal is approved this would increase to ten personnel per crew.

Do other local fire departments provide EMS transport?

Yes. Blair Township, Green Lake Township, Peninsula Township, East Bay Township and Lake Township currently provide EMS transport.  

What is the estimated timeline?

If approved, it would take 1-2 years to implement the EMS Transport model.  The City would need time to purchase two additional ambulances, hire and train personnel.