The ambulance fee is dead, and it won't be resuscitated, at least while Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) is in charge of the County Council.
Perez declared on Monday that the council will not vote on County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's (D) proposal to charge residents who need to be transported by an ambulance.
"I have no intention of bringing the bill to the council," Perez said. "As far as I am concerned, the ambulance fee is off the table."
Duncan has proposed charging insured residents who need ambulance service $350 per trip to the hospital. The fee could have generated $6 million to $8 million a year to pay for upgrades to aging Fire and Rescue Service equipment.
But hundreds of residents wrote to council members opposing the idea, saying they all already pay enough in taxes. The county's network of volunteer firefighters also opposed the fee idea. They feared fewer people would donate to volunteer fire departments.
Council members and staff say Duncan is at fault for the fee's demise this year because he never did much to rally support for it.
David Weaver, a Duncan spokesman, declined to comment.
Council member Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County) and Duncan rarely agree on much -- but they both did travel to Hawaii on the taxpayers' dime.
Duncan and Praisner attended the National Association of Counties conference in Honolulu earlier this week. Duncan took along Bruce Romer, his chief administrative officer, and Carolyn Colvin, the head of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The officials attended seminars on homeland security, economic development and land-use policy.
Patrick Lacefield, a council spokesman, said Praisner's trip was anything but a junket. She is a longtime leader in the organization and gave a presentation on the county's plan to import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada.
"She goes to conferences where she brings back good stuff and information to the county year in and year out, whether the conference is in West Virginia or Hawaii," Lacefield said.
At the conference, Montgomery received 30 awards -- the second highest number of any county in the country.
Weaver said that is the reason Duncan wanted to attend.
"He felt it was important to be there in person," Weaver said.
Weaver couldn't say what it cost for Duncan and his contingent to attend. But Praisner's trip cost about $1,200, Lacefield said.
A task force put together by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) to address issues raised by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's tree-cutting near the C&O Canal National Historic Park held its first meeting last week.
About a dozen community leaders, environmentalists and federal, state and local officials make up the task force.
The meeting was closed to the press. But Van Hollen said the task force will strive to increase cooperation between agencies to better protect the park resources.
In November, the National Park Service gave Snyder permission to remove more than 130 mature trees from a protective easement he owns behind his Potomac estate.
But Montgomery County planning officials say Snyder may have violated local forest conservation laws. The county Department of Park and Planning is negotiating a settlement with Snyder.