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Thurmont to take over town’s emergency services?

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(5/1) Mayor Martin Burns thinks that the Thurmont needs to start planning now how to make the Guardian Hose Company and Thurmont Ambulance Companies part of the town government rather than county organizations.

“We need to have a serious conversation about taking it over now,” Burns said during the April 28 meeting.

Burns said if the fire and rescue companies are part of town government, then the town can recover costs from the county as part of the tax equity program, which in turn, can be used to support the fire company.

“If we got some of the money back, and it better be equal to what we’re putting in it, it may be something to look at,” Burns said.

He said that Walkerville is thinking about doing the same thing and the Frederick City has considered the possibility. In the case of Frederick City, it would have to purchase back all of the buildings and equipment from the county, which would be very expensive.

Burns said later that the idea is worth discussing with the county, not to threaten them but to present an option that the town is seriously considering. None of the other commissioners expressed an objection to investigating the idea.

Burns was also not happy that Emmitsburg’s mayor and town council broke with a decision by the Frederick County Maryland Municipal League not to support a countywide fire tax.

“If the roles were reversed, I would not support it even if it lowered taxes for my residents,” Burns said during the Thurmont town meeting.

Burns called the position a “short and narrow view” of the problem because while residents in the urban fire tax districts like Emmitsburg will see short-term relief in the tax rate, it will continue to rise.

Hoover said he didn’t attend the MML meeting or Emmitsburg would have voted to support the countywide fire tax.

“We’d have to be crazy not to support a tax decrease to our residents,” Hoover said.

He said his job as the Emmitsburg mayor is to look out for the residents of Emmitsburg.

“Especially once the volunteer companies all decide to go 24/7, you know the rate will go up,” Burns said later.

However, Hoover pointed out that Vigilant Hose Company is still experiencing a strong level of volunteerism despite paying the highest fire tax rate.

He also said that the argument that suburban areas like Thurmont benefit from mutual aid is true, however, what isn’t pointed out is that Guardian Hose Company assists companies in urban areas like Emmitsburg.

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