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Taxing district OK'd for Prime Retail

December 03, 1997

Taxing district OK'd for Prime Retail

The Washington County Commissioners formally agreed Tuesday to create a special taxing district for Prime Retail's outlet mall under construction at the Sharpsburg Pike/Interstate 70 interchange.

The additional taxes levied on the mall would pay back taxable bonds issued by the county to pay for improvements on and off the Prime Retail property. The county would not have to pay back the bonds if Prime Retail couldn't make the payments, according to Prime Retail consultants and Washington County Finance Director Debra Bastian.

If Prime Retail can't pay back the bonds, the county could foreclose on the property and sell it, and the new owner would be liable for the bonds.

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Fran Busby, a financial consultant to Prime Retail from the firm of Prager, McCarthy & Sealy, said the bonds probably wouldn't be considered by bond rating agencies in determining the county's bond rating. If the bonds were considered, it would probably be as a positive because the outlet mall adds to the county's tax base, Busby said.

Hagerstown resident Don Allensworth said the commissioners should reject the special taxing district, and likened Prime Retail's outlet mall to 1st Urban Fiber. He said if the Prime Retail project fails, the county could be sued by bondholders.

Busby said any such suits wouldn't hold up in court.

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