Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Important Budget Message from the County Executive to County Employees

Dear Fellow County Employee:

I want to inform you of an important issue facing the County that could have an adverse impact on every County agency and employee.

Many of you are aware that the November ballot will contain County Question A. The Question gives voters the opportunity to decide whether County Council Bill 13-10: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Transport Fee, which passed in May, should remain law.

Under the law, the County would be allowed to recover ambulance transport costs from premiums already paid to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid -- $14 million this year and $170 million over the next 10 years. All revenues would be dedicated, by law, to strengthen our Fire & Rescue Service. No County resident will ever get a bill for ambulance transport, co-pays or deductibles -- whether they have insurance or not.

The County’s current year budget includes $14 million in revenue from the EMS Transport Fee. Two weeks ago, I forwarded a list of $14 million in proposed budget cuts (see link) to the Council. These reductions are unfortunate, but will be necessary if the EMS Transport Fee is not approved.

Council President Nancy Floreen said it well: “Given our already tight budget, any further cuts will echo across the County. Our obligation is to maintain a balanced budget. If residents vote against the ambulance fee, they will be voting for $14 million in cuts to services."

Nearly every jurisdiction in the Washington region collects millions of dollars in ambulance reimbursements from insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid – with no adverse effects. They are using those resources to save lives – and Montgomery County should do the same. We cannot afford to leave this money on the table.

Unfortunately, all of you have felt the impact of the County’s increasing resource demands and decreasing revenue due to current fiscal constraints. To keep our emergency services strong and not adversely affect other critical services and programs and our overall workforce further, we need the additional revenue that the ambulance reimbursement will provide.

Many of you have asked for facts and accurate information on the EMS Transport Fee. For more information, you can go to

As always, thank you for all you continue to do every day to serve this County and help us weather the challenges we face.

Ike Leggett
County Executive

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