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Leggett’s FY19 Operating Budget Reinstates Cuts to Two UpCounty Fire Houses

Back in January, when Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett first introduced his Fiscal Year 2019 Operating Budget it contained plans to eliminate two fire engines from the UpCounty, one in the heart of Germantown and the other in Hyattstown. The County Council reinstated those fire engines in their recommendation to Leggett, however, the cuts to fire safety for the UpCounty are back in Leggett’s final $5.56 billion operating budget which he submitted last Friday.

The budget, which is Leggett’s last as County Executive, contains an overall two percent increase of the Fiscal Year 2018 Operating Budget. The County’s new fiscal year begins July 1, 2018. The County is also continuing to struggle with dealing with an estimated $120 million budget shortfall.

The proposal would eliminate two fire engines from the 5th Battalion and an aerial ladder truck from the 1st Battalion of the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service.

The shortfall, which was announced in December, comes from a decline in projected income tax revenue. The County Executive's plan includes $60 million in savings from the fiscal year 2018 budget and about $13 million from the capital improvements program. If the gap is not closed through cuts to current services, it may have to be cut from the fiscal year 2019 budget.

Leggett’s proposed plan makes cuts to almost all County departments, but one that should be troubling to residents of Germantown was the proposal to eliminate Germantown Paramedic Engine 729, which runs out of the Fire Station 29 on Crystal Rock Drive next to the Montgomery County Police 5th District Headquarters.

The elimination of Paramedic Engine 729 will leave Germantown’s 100,000 residents with just two full-time, round-the-clock, professionally staffed fire engines, Engine 722 housed at the Kingsview Fire Station 22 at corner of Germantown Road and Clopper Road, and Engine 734 housed at the Milestone Fire Station 34 at Rt. 355 and Boland Farm Road. Volunteer Engine 729B, which is owned and operated by the Germantown Volunteer Fire Department will remain at Crystal Rock Drive but the full-time firefighters and the apparatus will be reassigned.

Leggett is also once again proposing the elimination of the paid crew and Engine 209 based in Fire Station 9 in Hyattstown, which is located on Rt. 355 just south of the border with Frederick County.

“The County Executive yet again has included the cuts that were proposed in the savings plan,” said District 2 County Councilmember Craig Rice, who represents Germantown and Hyattstown. “While I am disappointed that the County Executive’s Office of Management and Budget staff decide