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Boyer seeks more city stadium funds

March 07, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said Tuesday the city needs to find about $100,000 a year in additional funding for a new baseball stadium, but he didn't know where that much money would come from.

Boyer's comments followed recent statements by several Washington County Commissioners who said they will limit their contribution to match the city's.

The City Council has pledged to subsidize the proposed $12 million to $15 million Hagerstown Roundhouse and Sports Complex at the same rate as the city subsidizes the existing stadium, which is estimated at about $120,000 a year.

At the same time, the council vowed to use no additional property tax money for the stadium.

Previously, backers of a new stadium and city officials had expected the county to contribute about $280,000 a year to the project.

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Boyer said an additional $100,000 a year from the city, when combined with an equal county contribution, would be enough to support payments on $5 million in debt.

If the city and county governments each contribute $120,000, they may be able to fund $3 million in debt, he said.

Asked what it would mean if the city and county contributions were not increased, Boyer said, "We're not going to let that happen."

Boyer said a possible source of funds is the city's admissions and amusement tax, which he said generates about $16,000 a year.

"In order to keep our promise to the taxpayers we've got to find a source other than property taxes," Boyer said. "I'm optimistic we can find it."

Councilman William M. Breichner said the council has "dug a trench" around the $120,000 figure.

"I don't see how we can get out," Breichner said. "Unless there's a windfall."

Breichner said "one ray of hope" is that Richard Phoebus, chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force, has said more money could come from the private sector.

Boyer said the council and the commissioners need to meet soon to iron out a funding agreement for the stadium project.

Boyer said he is working on a compromise that would keep the commissioners' first year commitment at $120,000, "and keep the door open for more in 2001."

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, also a supporter of a new stadium, reiterated his request for a different division of the revenues from a proposed doubling of the county hotel-motel tax.

If the General Assembly approves raising the tax to 6 percent, the commissioners' contribution to the stadium project could come from the increased tax revenues.

Bruchey said the city should get about 55 percent, or more than $250,000, of the revenue from the increase because that represents the amount coming from hotels and motels within the city.

The plan being considered by the legislature calls for giving the commissioners discretion over some of the funds from the tax increase but does not give funds to the City of Hagerstown.

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