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Donoghue favors tax plan to fund stadium complex

December 16, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Maryland Del. John P. Donoghue said Thursday he favors raising the hotel-motel tax in Washington County to pay for part of a new baseball stadium and railroad museum complex.

Donoghue, D-Washington, is the first member of the county delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to come out in favor of the tax hike, which the Washington County Commissioners have agreed to request.

The commissioners, by a 3-2 vote Tuesday, agreed to ask the county delegation to increase the county hotel-motel tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. Such an increase would have to be approved by the state.

Most of the additional money such a tax increase would bring in, an estimated $320,000 a year, would be used to pay off $3 million of a $6 million loan proposed to be taken by the City of Hagerstown. An estimated $60,000 from the tax increase would go to the county government. The money from the tax increase would be counted as the county government's contribution to the proposed $12 million to $15 million Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex. The Hagerstown Suns baseball team would be the primary tenant of a new stadium.

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On Wednesday, State Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said he probably would oppose such a tax increase. Three other members of the delegation, Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, said they need more information before staking a position on the tax increase.

Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, Del. Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington and Del. Joseph R. Bartlett, R-Frederick/Washington, were out of town and could not be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday.

Donoghue said he would not comment on the overall plan for building a new stadium and railroad museum complex in Hagerstown until after a Monday meeting with Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council.

"I want to hear what they have to say," Donoghue said. "Conceptually I have always been a supporter of a new stadium."

"I would support an increase to the hotel-motel tax," he said.

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