They include eliminating some positions.
A plan to save Frederick County fire and rescue $4-million was introduced on Thursday to the Commissioners. The Proposal includes plans to generate more revenue, and eliminate some positions. It's intent is to help close a structural deficit as funding for the county's fire and rescue is transferred to the general fund budget.
Tom Owens, Director of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services, says it will involve the elimination of 22 positions, and this will have an impact at a few fire stations. "That level of budget adjustments certainly cannot be achieve without staff reductions. And operational staff reductions will have service delivery impacts in several stations where they are included in this plan," he says.
Among the staff reductions are the elimination of four fire fighter and EMT positions at the Independent Hose Co. in Frederick, as well as four fire fighter and EMT positions and two lieutenants at the New Market Fire Station, reduction of station ambulance staffing at the Libertytown Volunteer Fire Company and the elimination of four fire fighter and EMT positions at the Carroll Manor Fire Company's Point of Rocks Station. Other personnel reductions include the elimination of a part time position with the County Fire Marshal's Office, a breathing apparatus technician, two positions in the Health and Wellness Office, and shifting safety officers from 24/7 to weekdays only.
Owens presented two options: one would include layoffs, and the other would accomplish this reduction in force through attrition. He said the option which calls for attrition would save $4-million.
"I think it's clear from day one the board's option is attrition," said Commissioners' President Blaine Young. He says some of these employees, if they are eligible, could choose to take advantage of the retirement plan adopted last week.
Because Commissioners' Billy Shreve and David Gray were absent from Thursday's meeting, the board put off a decision on this proposal until a later date.
"Wanting to take people out of stations I don't think is going to serve the public well," said John Neary, President of the Career Fire Fighters Association of Frederick County. "It's not really what they want."
Rodney Masser, Chief of the Independent Hose Co., also expressed opposition to removing paid personnel from his fire station. "Right now, reducing our staff I cannot agree with. Because it is going to impact delivery to our service area," Masser says. "It's a no-brainer. We know that."
In addition to the staff reductions, Owens says the plan also has some revenue-generating recommendations, including changing the ambulance billing vendor, hard billing all ambulance transports, hard billing non-resident ambulance transports, increasing fees for ambulance transport, and implementing insurance cost recovery for fire responses. Owens says he presented these ideas to the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, and its members were against hard billing for all ambulance transports, and implementing insurance cost recovery for fire responses. The other recommendations were supported by the Association, Owens says.
Another recommendation is opening the third floor of the Public Safety Training Facility to commercial leasing.