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Parking free for winter holiday

May 09, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council on Tuesday agreed to offer free parking in downtown during the winter holiday season and to bring back the city employee and retiree picnic.

Parking will be free from Dec. 1 through Dec. 25, and is intended to help downtown businesses during the holiday shopping season.

The free parking will cost the city $12,000 to $14,000 in lost income, City Finance Director Al Martin said. Martin said he would try to make up the difference, possibly by increasing some parking fees and charging for weekend nighttime parking in the city parking deck.

The picnic for the city's almost 450 employees and about the same number of retirees was an annual event for more than 10 years until it was canceled last year because of budget constraints, Martin said.

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The picnic will cost about $5,000 to $6,000, Martin said.

Also Tuesday, the council unanimously voted to introduce the budget and tax rate ordinances. A final vote on both is expected May 30 instead of May 23. Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II suggested the date switch so the city vote wouldn't fall on the same day as a Washington County Commissioners public hearing that the mayor plans on attending.

Tuesday's meeting was the latest in a series of review sessions for the $64.4 million proposed city budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year, which begins July 1. The council is expected to discuss the proposed budget again next Tuesday.

Other issues raised during Tuesday's budget review session included donations to private groups and swimming pool hours of operation.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said he wanted to increase the city's donation to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Museum and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

Under the proposed budget, the museum would receive $12,000 and the orchestra $6,000. Boyer said he'd like to see those donations increased to $10,000 for the symphony and $15,000 for the museum.

Boyer and his fellow council members then agreed to consider using money left over from the current fiscal year to increase those, and possibly other, donations.

Councilman William M. Breichner said the Municipal Band deserves more city money. The band is set to receive $18,000 in the next fiscal year.

Breichner also said he'd like to see the city's swimming pool open on Mondays, the only day of the week it is normally closed during the summer.

Breichner also questioned spending $100,000 on a bridge near the city Public Works building, and he suggested the money go to two intersection improvement projects.

Boyer asked if recommended budget cuts presented last week by former councilman and current council candidate Ira P. Kauffman Jr. were looked into.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Kauffman's suggestions were reviewed.

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