AMBULANCE FEES, AGAIN?
In November of 2010, Montgomery County voters rejected ambulance fees by 20,000 votes. Apparently the County Council can’t count or they just plain don’t care.
Amazingly, on May 15th, the Council again will vote on whether to charge ambulance fees.
As a resident of Montgomery County I find this to be a slap in the face. The Council is trying to impose its will over the expressed wishes of the citizens it represents. This is a deplorable dereliction of duty.
County Executive Ike Leggett is championing this issue once again. The bill was introduced on his behalf. I am sure he will threaten to lay off employees if he doesn’t get his way.
My take is that public safety is one of the few things the county government should be responsible for. Police, firefighters, ambulance service. Those are the basics our tax dollars are supposed to pay for. I promise that if you and I could take a close look at what the county spends money on we’d scratch our heads in wonderment. Yet, here we are back at ambulance service again.
I spoke with Eric Bernard, executive director of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association. He and his people are the driving force against the fees. I asked him why. He told me that if ambulance service comes with a fee people will hesitate to call. I asked him how he knows that. Because, he told me, the first thing a great number of residents ask when calling an ambulance is how much it costs. When told it’s free, it’s an obvious relief for them.
But let’s go beyond the ambulance issue for a moment and simply consider whether the will of the governed should play a role in what the government does. Even if a member of the Council personally favors ambulance fees it seems to me he or she still would vote against them out of respect for the residents of the county who made their position crystal clear just 18 months ago.
The Council will hold a public hearing on the matter tomorrow evening at 7:00 in the Council chambers in Rockville. I hope they get an earful.
Consideration for the people the Council supposedly represents is a Core Value.