By Matt Bush
In Maryland, leaders in Montgomery County are crafting budget cuts that could lead to the layoffs of firefighters.
A court ruling last week allowed a voter referendum on ambulance user fees to be placed on November's ballot. Should voters reject the fees, the county will face an immediate $14 million budget hole, necessitating the cuts.
Volunteer firefighters at every turn have fought the fees, long supported by County Executive Isiah Leggett. Marcine Goodloe is the head of the county Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.
"We firmly believe some of the things that are being said about cuts of service and firing of firefighters and what have you is a scare tactic," Goodloe says.
A spokesman for County Executive Isiah Leggett confirmed layoffs of firefighters are being discussed, but dismissed claims by Goodloe that that possibility was a reprisal, saying the volunteer firefighters forced their hand by continuing to fight the user fees. Volunteer firefighters believe the fees might make people think twice about calling 911 for an ambulance because of what they may have to pay for doing so.