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Housing buy may lead to conflict of interest for city

August 28, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

The City of Hagerstown's purchase of a house to rehabilitate for the city's homeownership program could pose a conflict of interest later, said City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer.

The council is considering buying the 428 S. Potomac St. house from a group that includes a contractor who has bid on housing rehabilitation projects before, officials said.

Boyer said it could be a conflict of interest if the city awards a rehabilitation bid to Milton N. Stamper after buying the house from TKS Properties for $25,000. TKS consists of Stamper, Herman F. Stamper and Carrie J. Stamper, according to the sale contract.

Milton Stamper did not return telephone calls Thursday and Friday.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said whether the city shouldn't allow the seller to become the rehabilitation contractor is a policy issue the council should consider separately from the sale contract.

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George Andreve, Department of Community Development manager, said there is no conflict of interest because the bids for the rehabilitation project are sealed. The lowest eligible bid usually is recommended.

There is no guarantee the seller would get the contract, Andreve said Wednesday.

Through the city's homeownership program, rundown houses are bought, rehabilitated and sold to eligible low- and moderate-income home buyers.

This three-story brick, four-bedroom half double needs an estimated $39,000 in renovations, including a new main rubber roof, vinyl flooring, indoor and outdoor doors, a natural gas furnace, kitchen cabinets and countertops, an updated electrical system and repairs to the front and back porches, according to a memo from Andreve.

Andreve said the city can offer a better second mortgage rate for low- and moderate-income home buyers through the city's homeownership program that other sellers wouldn't be able to offer.

The council voted 4-0 on Tuesday to introduce a proposed law to buy the house from TKS Properties. Councilman Lewis C. Metzner was absent.

The council is expected to vote on whether to adopt the law at its Sept. 22 session.

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