Calvert Commissioners receive backlash from EMS for 2020 budget

Prince Frederick, MD – Multiple Calvert emergency service volunteers voiced their disapproval towards the proposed FY2020 Calvert Commissioners budget last week during a mandatory public hearing. The chief concern of those who spoke centers around the introduction of a Career Emergency Medical Services Division, creating two Advanced Life Support (ALS) divisions for the north and south end of the county.

Concerns expressed primarily stem from a lack of coordination between the commissioners on their proposed budget and what the EMS professionals have recommended in the past.

Katy Hassler of the Solomon’s Island VRSFD spoke on behalf of the EMS Advisory Council which serves to consult the commissioners and public on these issues. Hassler stated that the “EMS Advisory Council is concerned that the plan presented to [the commissioners] last month is not in the best interest of the citizens of Calvert County.” She then went on to explain that the plan was not signed or approved by the council.

An EMS system challenges committee was created in 2017 to deal with issues presented to the county, presenting findings to the commissioners in 2018. Bill Freesland who is a chair on the committee in addition to his role as Calvert County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association President later supported that the commissioners went another direction with the budget, proposing a different plan.

Only three commissioners were present for the hearing, Vice President Kelly McConkey [R-District 3], Earl “Buddy” Hance [R-At Large], and Steve Weems [R-At Large]. Both Commissioner President Thomas “Tim” Hutchins [R-District 2] and Mike Hart [R-District 1] were absent.

The Commissioner’s proposed budget sits at just under $313 million with an increase of $15.4 million over FY2019’s budget. The Staff Recommended Budget that was presented to the commissioners asked for $5.8 million to be allocated to the new paid EMS services, $3.4 million more than what the commissioners ended up presenting.

Though public comment focused on the changes to EMS in the county, the budget consisted of several other highlights. The education budget that makes up for around half of the $313 million gained $4 million over 2019, solid waste fees will increase beginning July 1, 2019, and a 5 percent adjustment for sheriffs and Correctional Deputies.

The commissioners will continue to receive public comment on the budget through Monday, Jun. 3. The board’s final budget will be adopted the following day.

The full budget is available here

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