May 5, 2012

The Post’s April 18 editorial “Taken for a ride,” endorsing Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s continuing efforts to establish ambulance fees, missed the primary consideration that the County Council should weigh in deciding the measure: whether to damage voters’ trust in government by overriding the November 2010 referendum that repealed the ambulance fee law — the only time that Montgomery voters have struck down a county law.

There is no compelling reason for the council to disregard the decision voters made just 18 months ago. Nothing has fundamentally changed; if anything, the fiscal picture is better than it was in 2010, as Mr. Leggett’s proposed 5 percent budget increase reflects. The referendum was hard-fought by both sides. Voters had ample access to information. More than 250,000 people voted, and by a margin of more than 20,000 votes, the voters repealed the fees that the council had adopted on a 5 to 4 vote. The people spoke. Elected officials should listen. Otherwise, people will question why they bothered to vote and why they should vote in the future.

There has been no groundswell from the public urging the council to revisit ambulance fees, and no council member has proposed reconsideration. The issue is back because Mr. Leggett refuses to accept the voters’ verdict.

To keep the voters’ trust, it is crucial that the County Council demonstrate respect and appropriate regard for referendum decisions by voters.

Phil Andrews, Gaithersburg

The writer (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) is a member of the Montgomery County Council and chairs its Public Safety Committee.