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Countians voice opinions on stadium

December 18, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County residents want to vote on whether a new stadium should be built with tax dollars, according to an informal survey conducted Saturday.

"Let the people decide," said John Palmer of Smithsburg. "We are the ones paying the taxes."

Most of the dozen residents polled Saturday said they are familiar with a proposal to build a $12 million to $15 million new stadium, whose primary tenant would be the Hagerstown Suns.

All 12 people interviewed said they thought voters should have a say on whether government money should go into the project.

"I definitely think voters should be able to vote on it," said Tim Cooper, 30, of Hagerstown.

"I think it should go to the voters," said Leon Tracey of Smithsburg. He has a problem with the idea of taxpayers footing the bill for a private enterprise, he said.

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The Hagerstown City Council voted 4-1 Nov. 23 to spend up to $3 million for the construction of a stadium, providing certain conditions are met. The no vote was from Councilman J. Wallace McClure.

The Washington County Commissioners, on a 3-2 vote Dec. 14, agreed to ask the county delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to increase the hotel-motel tax to 5 percent from the current 3 percent. Voting no were Commissioner William J. Wivell and Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

The extra money raised, an estimated $320,000 a year, would pay the county's $3 million commitment for the Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex.

McClure and Wivell want the stadium funding question taken to separate city and county referendums.

Residents interviewed at various locations across the county agreed.

"I think we should be able to decide," said Tanya Starr of Hagerstown.

"It should go to a referendum," said Herbert Taber of Smithsburg. "I'm dead-set against people in the county paying for it."

Will Rhinaman and Dave Bingaman, both of Boonsboro, also said the issue should be on an election ballot.

"It ought to be up to the voters," said Jeff Serig of Smithsburg.

"I would say, 'Yes,' " said Nancy Arnone of Hagerstown, "because it is a lot of money."

Debbie Barkdoll believes tax money shouldn't be used for the stadium and would like a chance to voice that opinion at the polls.

"I think it should go on the ballot," said Chris Helman of Hagerstown.

Dennis Straub of Hagerstown agreed. He also said he is tired of waiting for the city and county to develop a funding plan for the stadium.

"I don't see what's taking them so long," he said.

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