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Stadium vote set for today

May 08, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners are scheduled to vote today on whether to use money from a county hotel-motel tax increase to help pay for a proposed baseball stadium.

County Commissioners Paul Swartz, John Schnebly and Bert Iseminger have said they support pledging up to $250,000 in 20 annual contributions toward construction of the $15 million project. That would pay for the county's $3 million share of funding for the stadium.

The three commissioners have also said they support providing $190,000 in county funds for additional stadium studies.

The proposals need three votes from the five-member body to pass.

The discussion is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at the County Administration Building, 100 W. Washington St.

Approval would clear the way for work on the additional studies, pre-construction engineering and architectural work, which are required under the state law that raised the county hotel tax.

The room tax will increase to 6 percent from 3 percent July 1. The tax raised $486,175 in fiscal 1999, according to county documents.

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It has been estimated the tax will bring in $923,578 in the fiscal year that begins July 1, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

Of that, the county can use $300,000 a year to pay for economic development and tourism expenses, including the stadium.

Last week the Hagerstown City Council voted 4-1 to contribute $120,000 for additional stadium studies, and committed to spend in the future $250,000 a year for 20 to 30 years for stadium construction. Councilman Wally McClure voted against the proposal.

The studies will be funded with the money from the city and county governments and $35,000 from private contributions, including $30,000 from Suns owner Winston Blenckstone.

Stadium supporters told the council and commissioners at a joint meeting last Tuesday that they have selected a site behind the Centre at Hagerstown for a stadium. The primary tenant would be the Hagerstown Suns.

Dick Phoebus, chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce stadium task force, said the state will be asked for $6 million, with the private sector expected to come up with $3 million. The city and county governments are expected to contribute $3 million each.

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