MoCo Professional Firefighters Pull Out of Talks
The fallout from the ambulance fee debate in Montgomery County continues: The county's professional firefighters union said today that it is pulling out of negotiations to help close a projected $250 million budget shortfall next year because the County Council won't support the fee.
John Sparks, president of the Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Association, said in a statement that the union had been having an "excellent dialogue" with County Executive Isiah Leggett's administration about fire department budget adjustments.
Leggett's plan to create an ambulance transport fee to boost funding for fire and emergency services would charge health insurance companies -- not residents -- $300 to $800, depending on the service. But some residents and the county's well-organized volunteer firefighters oppose it, contending that such a fee would discourage people from calling for help.
Responding to the opposition, a majority of council members don't want to go forward with the fee. Instead. Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville)last week proposed earmarking money from fines raised by red light and speed cameras to pay for fire-rescue equipment and pedestrian safety programs.
Sparks called the Andrews plan "an illusionary proposition" because it wouldn't raise new revenue. "This looks like moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic as it is sinking," his statement said.
November 21, 2008; 4:55 PM ET
Categories: Montgomery County
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