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I'm not done yet

November 19, 1999

I'm not done yet.

That's the message coming from Washington County Commissioner Paul Swartz. Thwarted in his attempt to win support for an increase in the state sales tax to pay off the county's $52 million water and sewer debt, Swartz has come up with another idea- asking Gov. Parris Glendening to rebate $10 million of the state's $620 million surplus to every county in the state.

That would leave the state with a $400 million surplus, said Swartz, while providing the counties with a way to deal with the state's many unfunded mandates.

In his letter, Swartz is realistic about his proposal's chances for success, saying he realizes its' definitely a "long shot."

No doubt about that, but what this proposal does is keep alive the news that Washington County needs some help with this water-and-sewer debt, which wasn't incurred by citizens' choice, but because of some poor management decisions made by the now-defunct Sanitary Commission and a previous board of commissioners.

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The prospect of Swartz lobbying for a sales tax increase in Annapolis obviously caused the delegation to recoil in horror, and there was an almost audible sigh of relief from the county's state representatives when Swartz's fellow commissioners backed away from the idea.

This idea may get knocked down too, but we don't doubt that when that happens, Swartz, like a pleasant but persistent salesman, will come back with another idea, and another, until finally, someone in authority in Annapolis decides to grant Washington County some relief.

Does Washington County deserve such help? Yes, considering what some other jurisdictions are getting in the way of state aid, this county does deserve help. And unlike the subsidies that places like Baltimore City receive, the help Washington County needs would not be a permanent crutch, but a temporary assist. We await Commissioner Swartz's next proposal with great interest.

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