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County Council Still Mulling Cuts to Fire Service in the UpCounty

Despite the urging of its own Public Safety Committee to reinstate the funding, the members of Montgomery County Council are still considering the County Executive’s proposed cuts of fire engines and staff in Germantown, Hyattstown, and Hillandale to close the budget gap in the FY19 operating budget.

Last week, the County Council approved the items to be consider for reinstatement on the Council’s Reconciliation List. The list would add $21.6 million to $5.56 billion operating budget for the fiscal year 2019. Included on the list was $6.7 million in additional funding for MCFRS, to restore proposed cuts to in Hyattstown, Germantown, and Hillandale fire stations.

The Germantown Pulse has learned that the cuts are still in the possible as Council members wrangle to pare down the $21.6 million Reconciliation List.

Council President Hans Riemer said, “The Reconciliation List vastly exceeds the amount of money that we have available. Therefore, we go through a final process of trying to match up the amount of money that we have versus what we want to spend it on. Within Fire and Rescue we have been working to see, if we don’t have all the money to restore all the funding, what would be the priority order. Some have said that an UpCounty station should be cut, others have said a Silver Spring station should be cut. There is no bias in that. We are probably going to restore 100 percent of the cuts.”

He added that protecting the Germantown and Hyattstown stations were the top priorities to protect. “The priority list that I have seen has protecting the Germantown station as number one, protecting the Hyattstown station is number two,” said Riemer. “Protecting those stations is more important, and other stations are considered less important because of redundancy in those areas.” However, he added, “Just because I say that, does not necessarily mean that is where this process will end up. We are trying to find the money to restore those cuts.”