By Guy Leonard, The County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md.—For years the county has instituted a tax that directly benefits both volunteer fire and rescue squads. The Hollywood ambulance unit told the Board of County Commissioners this week they want an increase in the rate that applies to them from 1.1 to 1.5 cents.
The change would help their increasing operating costs, allow them to replace ambulances and make needed facility repairs.
Natalie Himes, president of the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad (HVRS) told commissioners that two of their four ambulances are aging and one is down for repairs.
That leaves first responders with only three ambulances that could go down for repairs at anytime, she said.
Were at a critical stage, we need ambulances, Himes said at the Tuesday meeting. Thats why were here today.
Commissioners told the rescue squad leadership their requests are important but with all the state budget questions looming teacher pensions coming to counties and increases in the flush and gas taxes now may not be the time to make a rapid decision on their requests.
Im somewhat caught off guard, said Commissioner Todd Morgan (RGreat Mills).
Commissioner President Francis Jack Russell (D-St. George Island) agreed that the facilities at the Hollywood squad were aging and in need of repair. Theres no question the building youre in is not up to standard, Russell said, but noted for the next few years the squad will have a balance of almost $600,000.
Tim Lenahan, treasurer for the squad, estimated the squads expenses would overtake its revenues by a wide margin in 2016, but an increase in the rate by nearly half penny would allow them to nearly close that gap by 2021.