Muskegon County hazmat team avoids budget chopping block

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MUSKEGON, Mich. – The hazmat team in Muskegon County was nearly disbanded following a county budget crisis.

Muskegon County currently provides hazmat support to 13 other counties. If the team had been disbanded, the county would have to rely on other counties to respond to hazmat calls.

"In those certain situations where chemicals are released, biological substances are found, these guys can come out with advanced equipment and tell us what the substance is," said Sgt. Dan Stout, the emergency manager for Muskegon County.

The county funds part of the hazmat program with the rest coming from federal grants. It costs $80,000 a year to fund the program, and up until a few weeks ago, they were $45,000 short.

To make up the deficit, a majority of commissioners elected to donate their annual pay raises to help fund the team.

"I see the need to have a hazmat team in place," Sabo said. "Because it really means so much not only for our public safety here at Muskegon County, but for the environment too."

The Muskegon County hazmat team has funding to last through the year 2017. After that, their future is uncertain. But commissioners say they hope to find a way to keep the hazmat crew funded.

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