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County Council Approves Ambulance Fee

The measure was overturned by referendum in 2010 and brought back up by County Executive Isiah Leggett this session.

Despite voters striking down the Montgomery County ambulance fee , Montgomery County Council passed the fee again Tuesday with a 6-3 vote. Several councilmembers said there was a misinformation campaign surrounding the 2010 referendum vote.

Councilmembers Councilman Phil Andrews (D, Dist-3), Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) and George Leventhal (D-At Large) were opposed.

While Andrews implored councilmembers to respect the will of the voters, some of the county lawmakers were disturbed at how voters were educated about the ambulance fee.

Many residents who voted against the fee thought county residents would have to pay the $300 to $800 fee per ambulance ride, Councilman Mark Elrich (D-At Large) said.

“That’s a blatant lie,” Elrich said. “Residents won’t pay.”

Only the insurance companies of non-residents using ambulance services would have to pay, according to the legislation.

In fact, the fee would put money back into the pockets of residents, Elrich said.

“County residents will pay less in taxes if the ambulance fee is put in place,” he said. Taxpayer money used to support non-resident ambulance rides would be payed for by insurance companies.

“Respect for the voters begins with what you tell the voters,” Elrich said. The disinformation campaign was not respectful to the voters.

Councilman Hans Reimer (D-At Large) agreed with Elrich.

“As a candidate in 2010 I witnessed the confusion surrounding this issue,” Reimer said.

Residents are already paying, through their insurers, for the possibility of an ambulance fee.

“That’s money left in the pocket of the insurer,” Reimer said.

An ambulance fee for non-residents is already in place in the areas surrounding Montgomery County. In Prince George’s County the ambulance fee brings in $11.5 million a year. In Fairfax County, they collected $15 million a year. And in Washington D.C., $20 million in ambulance fees were collected.

Ray Whalen May 16, 2012 at 08:27 PM
The real issue with ambulance fees, bag fees and now the new Maryland taxes is the profligate spending of the politicians. Most of the big ticket problems are with pension funds that are unfunded and unsustainable. Many public sector employees have defined benefit programs. Almost no one in the private sector has such a plan because they are unaffordable. The pols and the special interest unions are lying to the union members when they kick the can down the road. Meanwhile they nickel and dime and tax us to death. Read the attached WSJ article about state taxes etc.to understand the effect of high taxes. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304371504577406204224582604.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop
George Williams May 16, 2012 at 11:31 PM
We're being taxed and fee-ed to death in MoCo. Jeff is right, why are we being taxed for this service, if insurance companies are going to pay. And God help you, when your out-of-county relatives visit and need emergency medical services... they will get a bill. And as far as MoCo residents not paying... you may have to file a claim with your insurance company and if they don't pay, this could cause you problems if the bill ever goes to collection, because it has your name on it too. Why can't Leggett and 6 councilmembers respect the voters in a fair and democratic process? The votes that put them in office are not being called into question.
Jordan May 17, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Well, now we have the ambulance fee, the income tax hike, property tax hike, AND bag tax. That's some good governance you got there, County and State people.
MocoLoco May 17, 2012 at 12:16 PM
People. We cannot possibly continue to afford to have 90% of our county police officers retire on full disability for stubbed thumbs without this additional revenue source. Get with the program!
Ray Whalen May 17, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Mock Loco, the "program" we should get with is to stop the abuse of disability retiremments (if your comment is accurate) and to restruture defined benefit programs that the taxpayers don't have. Raising taxes and fees to placate union special interests is exactly the wrong program.

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