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Posted at 4:47 PM ET, 10/ 5/2010

Moco executive proposes $12.9M in cuts

By Washington Post Editors

Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett (D) has proposed cutting ambulance service and laying off dozens of fire and rescue workers as part of bid to save $12.9 million in case a referendum on a county ambulance fee passes in November.

In a letter to the county council, Leggett said the ballot question “will most likely succeed,” and outlined steps he said should be taken immediately to find the money to make up for losing the fee.

Volunteers firefighters, who have opposed the ambulance fee, would see a cut of more than $1 million.

Leggett administration officials said they don’t like the cuts, but that they are required by the circumstances.

Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), and ambulance fee opponent, said the list is a “political document” meant to influence the vote. Andrews said there are other ways to make cuts that would cause less pain, citing millions of dollars in costs associated with additional comp time given county workers earlier this year.

--Michael Laris

By Washington Post Editors  | October 5, 2010; 4:47 PM ET
Categories:  Maryland  
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Comments

This is just more proof that King Leggett's priorities are not in line with those of the voters.

King Leggett should be eliminating all payments to illegal alien support groups, such as CASA De Maryland and Identity. Payments to church groups that support illegal immigration should also be eliminated.

Posted by: postisarag | October 5, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

It is a great shame that it has came to this 'remedy for the counties budget. I am in favor of individuals and insurers being charged for providing ambulance service. It is a luxury of the highest quality in both ambulance quality and trained personnel operating them that is appreciated by most who live in this area. However, I also believe that it is a service that is abused by many residents because it is free. If the service is truly needed for the valid medical emergency for immediate transfer to the hospital that is one thing. However, it would be interesting to see how many calls and trips could have been made by car with one accompanying the injured person. Likewise, there is no reason not to bill the insurance companies if one is so covered - as most in this country are. Likewise, most individuals can afford the service if needed and for those who can't afford their viable alternatives for these situations. It is a proposal that the citizens will regret if they vote to pass it.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | October 5, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

What a joke. This is playing chicken with fundamental government service all so the bloat of D voting government union employees over filling Rockville can continue. Can't we PLEASE get a two party state in Maryland, already? Are we not adult enough to handle choices while voting? MOCO Gov needs a cleaning.

Posted by: lovinliberty | October 5, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse


Some might suggest that this is nothing more than MoCo Unionism using Mr Leggett as their point man in their ongoing war to utterly eliminate the Volunteer Firefighter organizations which for most of our history were the backbone of the Fire/Rescue services here.

I don't know if I'd go that far, but look at it this way: if the County decides to let firefighters and EMTs go, it's letting them go from the Union Employees system, not from the Volunteer system.

Posted by: thardman | October 5, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

The ambulance fee proposal never passed the smell test. Providing ambulance services to county residents is a core local government function. Scaring people by threatening to cut funds from the volunteers is the wrong way to go. There are plenty of social service things the county does that aren't necessary, cut them.

Posted by: VikingRider | October 5, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Ambulance fees are working well in NoVA. Why is it such a trauma in MoCo? There won't be dead bodies lying in the street and some of the cost of operating a first class EMS service will be paid for by the users.

Posted by: baileyfx | October 5, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that the Fire Department is always the first on the table for budget cuts. I hope the first stations effected are those that serve his house and his family.

Also, this has nothing to do with Union influence. In fact, the Paid Firefighters whose budget he is planning on cutting are part of the on the most influential unions in the country.

Nor does it have anything to do with pushing out volunteers, as both paid and volunteer companies, which often share the same stations and equipment as it is, are on the block to receive cuts.

Posted by: johnqpublic1 | October 5, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

This is "Washington Monument" budgeting. Our taxes already pay for ambulance service; why should we have to pay again? And if you talk to the firefighters, they will tell you that there is not all that much abuse; most people really do need ambulance service.

Instead why not cut the $2.1 Billion budget of the schools by reducing the health insurance premiums the county taxpayers shell out for each teacher from 90-95% down to the 80% that other (non-school) employees get? That would save at least $100 million.

Posted by: MrBethesda | October 5, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Under ike Leggett:


the county made a secret deal with a developer for the 3.2 acre county own property that the current Silver Spring
sits.

Council approved the purchase of a site at the corner of Wayne & Fenton, a space under an acre and paid $17 million.

The new Library building that will be beuilt at Wayne & Fenton is 6 stories but the library will only occupy 3 stories!

a private art school and gallary will occupy 2 floors ( we have no idea what rent if any they are paying ) but we do know that Omar Karim, the fraternity brother of soon to ex Mayor of DC Adrain Fenty, is a membr of the board of directors of the art school. Omar Karim is under investigation in DC for questionable development deals with fenty.
( both know ike from Howard U)

The new library patrons will have to pay for parking at the privately run garage on Wayne ave.

This should be investigated by the Maryland Attorney General as well as the Theater built on the montgomery county campus ( and within earshot of the csx trains) on Georgia ave.

The new library should be built on the current publically owned 3.2 acre site and that will allow parking for the library patrons. Thus It will not require patrons and children from trying to navigate the traffice just to get into the proposed library.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | October 6, 2010 3:14 AM | Report abuse

Under ike Leggett:


the county made a secret deal with a developer for the 3.2 acre county own property that the current Silver Spring
sits.

Council approved the purchase of a site at the corner of Wayne & Fenton, a space under an acre and paid $17 million.

The new Library building that will be beuilt at Wayne & Fenton is 6 stories but the library will only occupy 3 stories!

a private art school and gallary will occupy 2 floors ( we have no idea what rent if any they are paying ) but we do know that Omar Karim, the fraternity brother of soon to ex Mayor of DC Adrain Fenty, is a membr of the board of directors of the art school. Omar Karim is under investigation in DC for questionable development deals with fenty.
( both know ike from Howard U)

The new library patrons will have to pay for parking at the privately run garage on Wayne ave.

This should be investigated by the Maryland Attorney General as well as the Theater built on the montgomery county campus ( and within earshot of the csx trains) on Georgia ave.

The new library should be built on the current publically owned 3.2 acre site and that will allow parking for the library patrons. Thus It will not require patrons and children from trying to navigate the traffice just to get into the proposed library.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | October 6, 2010 3:14 AM | Report abuse

Average ambulance bill while living in Las Vegas, NV, $500, with no help from insurance for those of you that think the fee will be cheap. This area has a luxury of free ambulance services, while other places the people pay the ambulance bill along with the other medical bills not covered by insurance.

Maryland, Virginia, and DC are catching up with the rest of the country. lets see how many times you folks call 9-1-1 when you have to pay for the ambulance ride. Currently, they call every fifteen minutes by my calculations, I live close to a fire house.

Posted by: patmatthews | October 6, 2010 6:12 AM | Report abuse

I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by calling 877-882-4740 or check http://bit.ly/aVq0Jv If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: rebecatoby05 | October 6, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

why not add a 10 cent per gallon gas tax to pay for it?? what about a tax on soft drinks (raise money and discourage people from drinking them). How about a $1 a bag tax on plastic bags at stores so people stop using them,,,,the list goes on.

Posted by: ssfs20007 | October 6, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

The Leggett regime wants more of your money and will do anything and say anything to get it. Keep in mind that the ambulance fee will go to the general fund, not to emergency services. There is a supposedly dedicated fire tax that also goes to the general fund. We are taxed enough to pay for emergency service, but Ike and the Democrat machine don't value such service and they are not a priority in the current government elite.

We have a chance to say no to one-party government in a couple of weeks. I hope my fellow residents take advantage of the opportunity.

Posted by: mikeinburtonsville1 | October 6, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I echo the sentiments of the commenters above; instead of making sensible cuts with modest spending proposals, it's all smoke and scare tactics. PLEASE remember this and vote Doug Rosenfeld in on election day!

Posted by: karen24 | October 6, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

PG County residents are charged an ambulance fee by PG County Fire/EMS. My father, for example, was charged a fee of $100 for a 3-mile ride to his local hospital. Of course that amount represents the balance, after Medicare paid, I believe, $400.

Posted by: NJ2MDdude | October 6, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Once again we see how MC is ruled by a political hack. But as long as the blind liberals keep voting for this numbnut, that's the kind of government we'll get; partisan, irrational, wasteful, irresponsible, etc. MC has evolved into the liberal utopia where spending is big, services are poor, and businesses are running away. Rather on focusing on fundamentals, looney leggett concerns himself with trans-fats and what kind of lightbulbs we're using. Wake up people take off your tin-foil hats and stop drinking the kool-aid.

Posted by: freepost | October 6, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Once again Leggett is a moron and for him to propose laying off fire and rescue workers is beyond me. If there is some proof that there is currently an excess of firemen and EMTs then that is one thing, but I highly doubt that. For him to cut the individuals who save and protect the public is completely uncalled for. Mr. Leggett should probably look at cutting services for illegals and possibly doing the liberal unthinkable and deporting them. Your time is up Mr. Leggett, please retire or start to think about your county residents and not your political voting machine.

Posted by: Jsuf | October 6, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

MoCo taxpayers paid 4.6 million dollars last year for 177 crossing guards to work 2.5 hours a day. They are considered part-time seasonal workers, yet they get FULL benefits for themselves AND all members of their families.

They also build up retirement benefits. They work 184 days a year, 2.5 hours a day equals 12.5 hours a week, or 460 hours per YEAR.

Now, you might ask yourself why are we laying off police and firefighters, yet not one crossing guard has been furloughed.

And, although the pay for a starting crossing guard is about 15.00 per hour, the qualifications are: must be 18 years old, must have a high school diploma or GED, and must be able to read and write.

In addition, if you speak spanish you get more per hour, AND if you work more than 12.5 hours a week you get overtime pay!!!

The school system has request 7 more positions to compliment their current 177 crossing guards which are paid out of the public safety budget NOT the education budget which is where they should be paid from.

So folks, do we lay off fire fighters and police? or do we get a handle on the crossing guard scandal which LoCo Leggett has been aware of since last year when he began slashing the budget and charging for ambulance fees??

The choice is ours in less than a month.

Posted by: politicalregister | October 6, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

This is lovely. The local, state and federal governments are larded over with layer upon level of worthless administrators, their bloated staffs and minions and are THE reason these governments are failing, yet the first cuts made are to the very REASON local governments exist: fire and police. What a swindle on taxpayers. There is nothing lower, nothing more worthless and non-productive than government workers once you get past fire, police and the courts. THAT is the purpose of government. Not a jobs program for over-bloated do-nothings. Montgomery County should be ashamed.

Posted by: JamesChristian | October 6, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I would like to make several points in response to this debate and people's comments.

(1) It is clear that both sides responses are driven by politics, not necessarily by logic. It should not be a surprise to the firefighters that cuts would be directed back at them if they propose revenue reductions.

(2) EMS services are not necessarily a basic governmental service. Historically, across the US, private companies involvement in EMS has waxed and waned and fees have only increased throughout the US since the 1980s.

(3) Personally, I don't see the rationale to the extreme reaction against the fee. It has very little impact to people directly as opposed to many of the tax and spend policies of MoCo.

(4) Haphazardly targeting one or two county expenditures as examples and targets does not seem a very productive way to look at the overall picture. MoCo needs to do a line by line and program by program review of its entire system and budget to determine its priorities and the most effective and efficient way to meet them.

Posted by: MarkoInMd | October 6, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The ambulance fee as originally proposed by the Department of Fire & Rescue Services was not designed to actually bring in revenue but rather to drive a wedge between the public and the local volunteer fire and rescue departments. This was to be accomplished by sending bills for each ambulance call to the served persons home.

One of the primary public relations positions of the local volunteer fire and rescue departments (LVFRDs) was that fire and rescue service should be a basic county responsibility. The bills for ambulance service would be an effective way to cripple LVFRDs ability to raise funds because the bills would allienate public support for the LVFRDs.

The council altered the worst provisions of the proposal by throwing out the idea that any bill would ever be sent to an individuals home thus blunting that effect but by then the volunteers had their backs up and were good and angry. These volunteers are after all county residents for the most part and they new that the money would not be used for fire and rescue. The executive and the council majority admitted that fact during debate saying that the money would only be used for fire and rescue initially and that thereafter it would be general fund income. The council majority also asked us to believe that insurance companies would take a multi thousand dollar hit in additional costs and not pass those costs along to their insureds. That idea is simply too ludicrous to deserve further comment.

The Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association has asked the Executive repeatedly to report what the total income from the consolidated fire tax and the 911 telephone surcharge comes to but somehow the county executive never answers that basic question. Could it be because the consolidated fire tax brings in enough money to cover the cost of fire and rescue services and he does not want to admit that he is using those fire tax funds for purposes of which the voters might not approve? Let Legget, Elrich, et al answer these questions honestly and we would have a place to begin talking from. Additional questions that the county's elected officials won't answer are how many take home cars are operated by fire and rescue personnel, both career and volunteer, that are not subject to routine recall when off duty? What is the annual cost to the county of buying, operating, and maintaining those vehicles? How does the county's ratio of non operational staff to operational staff compare to other local governments in the Washington DC area?

Unless we are willing to take a hard look at these and other costs the county's elected officials will have to keep treating any money they can possibly obtain as a shark treats the smell of blood in the water. The money feeding frenzy ends when the the council learns to say no to any expense that is not providing essential services to the county's voters.

Just one volunteer's view.
--
Tom Horne

Posted by: hornetd | October 6, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

As the only person on the face of the Earth who is in a position to replace Ike Leggett as County Executive in this election, I thought I might weigh in on this issue. As the debate over the ambulance fee continues, and takes yet another turn, Ike Leggett is a happy guy. As long as voters beat each other up over the merits of the fee, they overlook what prompted the debate in the first place. We did not need a fee until Ike Leggett drove this County to a record $1 billion budget deficit. The question everyone needs to ask is this: How did one of the nation's most prosperous Counties get to this point? Ike Leggett drove us to a deficit, tried to fill it with ambulance fees, and now has the gall to attempt to lay blame for any cuts relating to his deficit on people who resist his quick fix. That's governance Ike Leggett style, and the time has come for it to end.

Doug Rosenfeld
Candidate for County Executive
www.rosenfeld2010.com


Posted by: DougRosenfeld | October 6, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

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