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Smithsburg mayor tackles town issues

June 02, 1999

BowersBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




SMITHSBURG - In Smithsburg's first state of the town address, Mayor Tommy Bowers discussed the town's water and sewer budgets, police department, parks and street and lighting upgrades.

Bowers also said the town would replace town attorney Edward Kuczynski, of Hagerstown.

He said the action was being taken because Kuczynski also represents the Smithsburg Development Corp.

In the past, Kuczynski would step aside and not represent the town or the development company in matters in which they were both involved, Bowers said.

"We need a lawyer who will represent us all the time," he said.

Bowers said he does not question the attorney's ethics or competency. "He will be hard to replace," he said.

Kuczynski will cease to be town attorney on Aug. 1, Bowers said. In the interim, the town will advertise for bids for legal services.

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Bowers also spoke of the need for unity among residents and council members.

"We need to learn to get along," he said.

About 17 people attended Bowers' address. Michael Rohrer was the only council member present.

Bowers praised area volunteers and asked that others consider giving their time and money to support town nonprofit organizations.

Bowers said the town needs to continue work on improvements to the streets, sidewalks and curbs started by the previous administration.

Bowers accepted responsibility for the recent rate increase in the town's water and sewer budgets.

"You can blame me for the rate hikes, but don't blame me for the debt," he said.

Smithsburg's debt accumulated over the past few years because of increases in city and county water and sewer fees and necessary repairs to the town's water lines.

Water purchased from the city of Hagerstown is clean but costly, said Bowers.

The town may need to pursue building its own sewer plant to save money, he said.

Lighting in areas of the town is poor and needs to be upgraded, said the mayor.

"Well-lighted streets are a crime deterrent," he said.

To keep crime rates low, the town needs to hire two more officers, a staffing increase called for in the town's comprehensive plan, which was prepared in 1996, he said.

The possibility of funding those positions through federal grants should be explored, he said.

Smithsburg needs a community disaster plan, said Bowers.

He called for a committee made up of the police, fire and ambulance department chiefs to formulate a plan.

The town's two parks are an asset to Smithsburg but it might be necessary to consider whether the town can afford to maintain both, he said.

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