Montgomery County Council has approved ambulance user fees, despite an emotional outcry from volunteer firefighters.
By Matt Bush
After years of rejecting ambulance user fees, council members in Montgomery County, Maryland have now approved them.
By the narrowest of votes, 5-4, council members okayed the fees that will be charged to patients who need an ambulance to get to a hospital. Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenburg previously fought the fees, but the county's budget troubles forced her to switch.
"This is not an easy choice, but in my opinion, it's a necessary one," she says.
Volunteer firefighters vigorously fought the fees, believing the change will mean residents will think twice before dialing 911 for an ambulance.
"We're very disappointed, because we believe we're defending the people," says Marcine Goodloe, president of the county's volunteer fire and rescue association. "And the majority of letters that have come into the council are people opposed to this fee."
County Executive Isiah Leggett, who pushed for the fees, says insurance companies will largely pay for them. All other jurisdictions in the D.C. region charge the fees.
The county council this morning also okayed a scaled back increase to the county's energy tax, and approved the creation of a carbon emissions tax.