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Sewer plan endorses state funding plan

February 11, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Public hearing

  • Saturday, Feb. 12
  • 10 a.m.
  • South Hagerstown High School auditorium


At a public hearing today, the Washington County Water and Sewer Advisory Commission plans to endorse a state plan to curb the county's water and sewer debt problem.

The plan is part of a proposal by members of the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to secure funding for a new baseball stadium in Hagerstown, which is the subject of today's hearing.

The proposal would raise funds through an increase in the Washington County hotel-motel tax. A portion of the funds raised through the increase would be applied to the water and sewer debt.

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"We wanted to come out in support of any legislation that would help the debt in any way," said Bonnie Parks, a commission member.

"Basically we are pleased. It is a starting point," she said.

The complicated plan is intended to address the county's $52.3 million debt and provide money for a recreation project, such as a new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns.

Parks said the commission is not taking a position on the stadium portion of the plan because they don't know enough about it.

But she said commission members are happy about the part of the plan that requires the County Commissioners to put $400,000 a year into a fund used to pay off the county pre-treatment plant's $9 million debt. Any profits the pre-treatment plant makes must be used to stabilize or reduce water and sewer rates.

Parks said she will read a statement to that effect at today's public hearing, which was called by delegation members who were concerned the public doesn't understand the intricate plan.

The delegation is scheduled to vote on the plan Wednesday.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Friday the commissioners will probably take a position on the plan in the next few weeks. First, they want to hear more expert opinions about whether the plan is a good approach to addressing the debt problem, he said.

One portion of the plan calls for doubling the hotel-motel tax to 6 percent from its present 3 percent.

Richard Trump, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau board, said the state plan is a modification of a plan which called for increasing the tax to 5 percent to help pay for a new stadium. That plan was endorsed by the board in mid-December.

While the new state plan will probably come up for discussion during a board meeting Thursday, he doesn't think they will vote on it since "it is out of our hands," he said.

Instead, they will just reiterate their opinion that a new stadium would be good for tourism, he said.

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