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Swartz has new idea to pay off debt

November 15, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz has devised a strategy for paying off some of the county's water and sewer debt: Get $10 million from the state's budget surplus.

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In a letter he mailed Monday, Swartz asks Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening to give $10 million to each of the state's 23 counties plus Baltimore city. The money would come from the state's $620 million surplus, he said.

Swartz said he has not decided how all of the $10 million would be used but some of it would go to debt service.

"I realize this is a long shot but the counties truly do need the help," Swartz said in the letter. "We could all enjoy some of the state's prosperity because we are the people that helped produce the surplus."

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Glendening would have no response until he sees the letter, a spokesman said Monday.

Swartz said he has shown the letter to some of the other commissioners but they did not volunteer to sign it.

Swartz said he decided to try this approach after the failure of his plan to hike the sales tax in Washington County from 5 cents to 6 cents to pay off the $52.3 million Washington County water and sewer debt.

Members of the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly said they didn't like the idea, and the County Commissioners voted 4-1 not to pursue the idea further.

Swartz said "rebating" money to each county would garner Glendening positive attention.

"You are already considered a very good governor; this touch of compassion will make you the greatest governor ever to governor our great state of Maryland," he wrote.

The water and sewer debt was the result of decisions made by the Washington County Sanitary Commission before it was taken over by the County Commissioners in December 1995. Swartz was elected in November 1998.

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