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City Council discusses ways to raise money

April 18, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Eliminating admission fees at the Hager House, cutting spending on sidewalk fire alarm pull boxes, and charging for night parking in the downtown parking deck were among the issues Hagerstown City Council members raised during budget talks Tuesday.

No decisions were made on those matters, but they will probably be discussed again during May budget meetings.

Tuesday's meeting was the latest in a series of review sessions for the proposed $64.4 million budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for May 2 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The Mayor and City Council are expected to discuss possible changes to the proposed budget during a meeting on May 9 and possibly again on May 16. The council is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget on May 23.

Councilman William M. Breichner said Tuesday that the council should consider eliminating admission fees at Hager House.

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Breichner said eliminating the fees could encourage more tourism at the home of the city's founding father.

He also questioned whether the fees collected offset the cost of collecting the fees.

Currently, admission fees at Hager House are $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and $2 for students. Those fees are expected to bring in about $6,400 in the coming fiscal year.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said free night parking in the downtown parking deck has "outlived its usefulness." She said in Frederick, Md., the parking deck costs $1 at night.

Saum-Wicklein's comments came during the discussion of the city parking fund, which is expected to run a $107,000 deficit in the coming fiscal year, even with proposed increases for monthly parking permits.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer suggested looking for private property to be used for additional parking.

Boyer questioned a proposed $42,000 in spending on the city fire pull-box system.

Boyer said it doesn't appear to be used by the public, and the boxes are "invitations for false alarms."

Councilman J. Wallace McClure agreed with Boyer and suggested the council look into where the boxes are "really essential and eliminate the others."

McClure also questioned a proposed $2,000 contribution for the Potomac Classical Youth Ballet.

McClure said the group doesn't run a deficit, so maybe "we're subsidizing something we don't need to."

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said any money the ballet group makes goes back into the group.

"It doesn't go into anyone's pocket," Bruchey said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner did not attend the Tuesday meeting. Metzner was with his mother who was expected to undergo shoulder surgery.

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